Air Quality Alert Due to Smoky Conditions

June 7, 2023

The Canadian wildfires continue to cause unhealthy air quality in the New York City region. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has extended its Air Quality Health Advisory for New York City until midnight Thursday, June 8 and the New York State Department of Health has advised individuals to take health and safety precautions. (If you would like to check current and forecasted air quality information for your area, please visit AirNow.)

Due to the adverse conditions, Dean Fried and I have decided that all Columbia Mailman classes and events in affected areas will be remote, Thursday, June 8. Instructors will email classes directly with any changes or cancellations.

For those who are in affected regions, including New York City, only essential personnel should report to work Thursday, June 8. Non-essential personnel should work remotely. If you have a question about your essential status, please check in with your supervisor. If you have an immediate work deadline, please contact a manager or supervisor about contingency plans as needed. The Allan Rosenfield Building (ARB) will remain open. Expect normal operations to return on Friday, June 9, unless you receive further notification. 

If you are on campus, please help us protect our campus by closing and locking all windows, blinds, and doors each day, especially in spaces that are not normally occupied.

An advisory from the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals in areas with unhealthy air quality levels limit outdoor activity and avoid long-term exposure. People who may be especially sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of air pollutants include the very young, and those with preexisting respiratory issues such as asthma, heart disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and other lung disorders. Those with symptoms should consider consulting their personal physician. Exposure to the smoke may cause short-term health effects including coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

Properly fitted, high-quality masks such as an N95, KN95, or KF94 are recommended if you must be outdoors for significant periods. Masks have been distributed to students and will continue to be available in the lobby of ARB. Officials also recommend keeping windows closed and using air purifiers for homes that have them.

The Columbia Mailman homepage will publish emergency updates. Please visit Closings and Cancellations for more information about Columbia Mailman's procedures. To reiterate, expect normal operations to return on Friday, June 9, unless you receive further notification. 

CUIMC Facilities Management, Public Safety, and Environmental Health and Safety are available to assist with campus, building, laboratory, or other issues that may arise. For CUIMC Facilities, call (212) 305-HELP (4357), option 3. For Public Safety, call (212) 305-8100 for routine matters or (212) 305-7979 for an on-campus emergency. For problems in research laboratories, call Environmental Health and Safety at (212) 305-6780.