State health commissioner: No long-term health impacts from bad air quality

This time last week, we were all staying inside to avoid the bad air from Canadian wildfires that was consuming our state. Thankfully, things have cleared up but many of you are wondering about long-term damage. 

On Tuesday, Dr. James McDonald, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, was in Rochester and addressed the question. He says the poor air quality came on pretty suddenly with a shift in the jet stream, so the state leaned heavily on local county health commissioners because the situation was a bit different depending on what part of the state you were in.   

Obviously, the situation was most impactful for people with pre-existing lung conditions. Most of our local hospitals saw only a slight increase in emergency room visits on the days when air quality was at its worst but nothing dramatic and nothing life-threatening. Dr. McDonald said the same was true across most of the state. 

“Across the state we did see a small uptick in asthma last Wednesday, June 7, but I was looking at some data this morning and it really did seem to go back to normal baseline rather quickly,” Dr. McDonald told News10NBC. “And I think what that indicates that what we went through last week was a short, time- limited exposure. We had about 36 hours of air that wasn’t the quality we’re accustomed to, now we’re heading back to our usual, pristine upstate air and in upstate New York, we’re used to really clean air.”