Smoke descended on neighborhoods around Newtown Creek in Brooklyn and Queens as residents went about their lives. Most did not wear masks and few took any other precautions.
The neighborhood of East Williamsburg in Brooklyn has the worst air quality on average in New York City. Reporting By the city’s health department.
Chris Clapper took precautions Thursday morning as air quality worsened. Ms. Clapper’s dog, Dude, a gray 68-pound mutt, needed walking. Before leaving her apartment, Ms Clapper checked the air quality app on her phone. Local measurements gave an air quality index of 92, so he donned a white KN95 mask. When she and the dude walked, the AQI went up to 105.
“I always knew the air quality here would be bad,” said Ms Clapper, 53, an installation artist. “But when you’re an artist, you move to this neighborhood because it’s cheap. So what are you going to do?”
Mrs. Clapper and her husband recently bought a house in the Hudson Valley, where air quality is predicted to grow worse than New York City on Thursday. They planned to spend the next day there. “We will wear masks and keep the windows closed,” he said.
Nearby, Dustin Rex stubs out a cigarette on the sidewalk. He said he hadn’t heard about the air quality warnings, so he didn’t take extra precautions.
“I know the air here is bad,” said the 36-year-old Mr. “Everything is dusty because of the cement factory,” said Rex, in the street across from his apartment.
He, too, works on a real estate project and spends the day in the stale air. Mr. Rex recently bought a house in the Poconos, he said. He planned to load the furniture into his pickup truck, drive to Pennsylvania, and drop it off. The wind was predicted to be even worse in the Poconos than in New York City, but he said he wasn’t worried.
“I mean, this building has old windows. They don’t do much to keep the dirty air out,” he said. “I’m not too worried about that.”
Enrique Pasaba pushed a shopping cart piled high with seven used bicycles that he said he had bought and planned to fix up and resell. Touring East Williamsburg on Thursday, Mr. Basaba said he could tell the air quality was bad. He said his breathing felt labored. But he had never heard of wildfire smoke returning, so he worked without a mask or asthma inhaler.
“When the air was bad a few weeks ago, I overused my inhaler,” said Mr. Basaba said. “I didn’t bring it with me today. But now I smell it in the air. It’s not good.”
For years, Susan Lee ran an air purifier at her home in Maspeth, Queens — another neighborhood with worse air quality than the rest of the city — and turned the machine off when she went to work. Ever since New York’s skies turned orange in early June, he’s been running the refinery ever since.
Besides, she didn’t make any special plans today when she knew the air quality would drop again. She and her mother continued to plant creeping myrtle seeds in their side yard.
“If it’s as bad as it looks outside, I think we’ll go in,” said Ms. Lee, whose family has lived in Maspeth since 1986. “So far, anyway, it’s not that bad.”
At Frank Principe Park in Maspeth, Justin Murillo was playing soccer with a friend without removing his mask.
The park is located near the Long Island Expressway, and planes fly down on final approach to LaGuardia Airport. But rather than petroleum fumes or wildfire smoke, Mr. Murillo, 23, said the Sanitation Department’s landfill is a few blocks away.
“The air here always stinks because of that place,” he said.
As he rode his bike to the park from his home in Elmhurst, Queens, on Thursday morning, Mr. Murillo doesn’t know. When he learned of the warnings, he did not change his plans.
“I like it here. There’s always room to play,” Mr. Murillo said. At 10:30 a.m., conditions in the park were good. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, the local air quality index read 107, which qualifies as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” .
“Covid happened and everyone was too scared to go out,” Mr. Murillo said. “I don’t want to deal with it. That doesn’t sound too bad. It’s summer in New York.