The life expectancy of residents in New York City is shortening by an hour every day, experts say, due to toxic air that has engulfed the metropolis this week.
Toxic smog has been flowing over New York City from raging wildfires in Canada. Residents – who have been urged to stay indoors – have described the orange din as "like something from Mars".
A Code Red air quality alert has been put in place and forecasts show winds look set to continue bringing the hazardous air south. The air quality is described as the worst in the world.
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Weather expert Colin McCarthy tweeted yesterday (Wednesday, June 7): "If exposed to the current air quality in NYC for 24 hours, it would be equivalent to smoking about 6 cigarettes."
The National Institute of Health estimates that one cigarette shortens a person's life by 11 minutes – meaning breathing in New York City's air would knock off 66 minutes each day.
New York Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan has warned: "Air quality conditions in NYC are getting worse and so we're escalating our recommendations.
"We continue to strongly recommend New Yorkers stay indoors, keep windows closed, and perform outdoor activities only if absolutely necessary.
"This is especially true for people who are more vulnerable: people with respiratory or heart conditions, older New Yorkers and very young New Yorkers.
"If you absolutely must be outside, wearing a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95) may help.
"But the best protection is to avoid being outside until the air clears. For New Yorkers who may be experiencing breathing problems, call 911.
"We are also recommending childcare and afterschool programs and non-public schools also run activities inside."
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