June 16, 2023 | 6:29pm
Will Gregory shows off his new ikea air quality monitor that he bought to keep in his West Village apartment to keep an eye on the worsening air with the Canadian wildfires.
Daniel William McKnight for the NY Post
Prior to last Wednesday, Lizzie Stoldt, a 27-year-old Manhattan publicist, had barely given a thought to New York City’s air quality.
I had heart surgery when I was younger, and even I had no idea air quality was something I needed to worry about, she said.
But when the skies turned hazy over the Big Apple last week, he began closely monitoring the AQI Air Quality Index on his iPhone.
She was shocked when she passed 200 and finally passed 400. (The Environmental Protection Agency defines a healthy range of 0 to 50 and a moderate 51 to 100).
I felt like I smoked a whole pack of cigarettes, and it was validating to see the numbers, she said. I was like, it’s not just me. The air is really bad.
The skies have been blue for the past few days and the AQI has been in the good to moderate range. But experts warn the smoke from the wildfires could return this weekend.
Stoldt will not be blindsided this time. He is closely monitoring the air quality every day.
It’s just been integrated into the routine now. Open the weather app, check the temperature, check the air quality, he said. I can take my mask off now if I need to. If it happens during the week I will use it as an excuse to work from home instead of walking through smoke to get to work.
New Yorkers are suddenly aware of something those in the West have known about for years about air quality and how it can be suddenly and drastically affected by distant wildfires.
Gothamite wardens are now monitoring the AQI as closely as they do the chance of rain on a summer Saturday.
AirNow, an app operated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, gained 7.8 million new users last week, 1.7 million of which were from New York City, according to a report.
I’m checking the air quality like a maniac, tweeted social media user @stephginette from Brooklyn, at 5am
Now, every time I smell a barbecue outside, I check the air quality on my phone, admitted another, Mike Faraca, who lives in New Jersey.
Will Gregory, 33, who works in the tech sector and lives in the West Village, received a gadget from IKEA that monitors the temperature, humidity and air quality in his home.
He was fascinated to watch the numbers fluctuate, he told The Post.
The highest he got last week on Wednesday was 195, but that was nothing compared to me cooking yesterday, Gregory said, surprised. I put some oil in a pan and got distracted. It burned down and the numbers rose to 655.
He’s looking at the numbers going into the weekend.
If it keeps getting worse I’ll have to buy an air purifier, she said.
During normal days, when smokeyskies aren’t making the news, he’s reluctant to tell people, especially strangers he meets at the bar, that he’s monitoring the air pollution in his apartment.
It’s not really a topic that comes naturally, he said.
But, for anyone asking, he has the information ready.
Having data is nice, he said.
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