Meter showing unhealthy air quality in Holyoke

Holyoke Public Schools is taking precautions for students and staff who may be sensitive to poor air quality in the region as a result of wildfires in Canada and elsewhere in the country. That poor air quality is expected to persist at least through tomorrow.

Among those precautions are inside recess periods or shortened outside recess for students to reduce their exposure. School staff are also monitoring students, especially those with known respiratory conditions, and are referring these individuals to the school’s nurse as necessary.

Health officials recommend reducing time outside for any individual who feels symptoms such as throat irritation or difficult breathing, she said. 

“About one-fourth of our students have been diagnosed with asthma,” said HPS Director of Health, Wellness, and Nursing Cynthia Carbone. “They would be among those who could be affected by the particulates—especially fine particulates—that are in the air because of the wildfires.”

Air quality in Holyoke has improved since yesterday, with ozone and nitrogen oxide levels reported a return to excellent as of this morning, Wednesday, June 7. Worse air quality was reported to the west of Holyoke, with Springfield showing unhealthy air-quality levels as of this morning.

More information is available on the website, including an interactive map that shows air quality information by zip code, based on the official U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI). 

For a detailed air-quality fire and smoke map in real time, please refer to this link, where you can zoom in to see specific areas or zoom out to see the full United States and Canada, or more.

The website provided the following guidance:

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

  • Keep outdoor activities short.

  • Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them.

Everyone else – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:

  • Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.

  • Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.

  • Be active outdoors when air quality is better.

Some additional guidance to consider from Yale School of Public Health Professor Krystal Pollitt:

  • Consider wearing a well-fitted N95 mask;
  • Keep windows and doors close when possible, and use fans and AC to stay cool to limit outdoor air from coming inside; and
  • Run a portable air cleaner to improve indoor air quality.