Recently, poor air quality has become a more frequent concern to New Yorkers.
“That’s the only concern I have,” Mary Guy said of her six-week-old son. “[I] can’t take him out because of the air quality.”
Guy said the only reason she took her baby outside on Wednesday was because they had a doctor’s appointment. Otherwise, they would be home.
“I don’t go out a lot,” she said. “I only go out when I have appointments and stuff.”
More New Yorkers are watching the Quality Index Value for guidance before leaving the house.
“The first episode we saw almost a month ago, it was due to the wildfires,” Dr. Tania Florimon, a Physician with Pediatrics 2000 and SOMOS community care, said. “Right now, the alert on poor air quality is more because of the ozone pollutants and that’s usually when you have a lot of pollution caused by carbon emissions and high temperatures.”
Dr. Florimon said it’s creating an increase in pediatric patients with asthma or respiratory issues, which they usually see during flu season in the fall and winter.
“During the summer, or spring, we will see more allergies,” she said. “And we’re seeing more respiratory cases during this poor air quality situation.”
This can be exacerbated in children who live in areas with historically high levels of pollution, such as the Bronx, where Guy and her son live.
“The Bronx has the highest rates of asthma in the five boroughs,” Dr. Elisa Gross, a pediatrician with Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, said.
Asthma prevalence among children in the Bronx is also 17%, compared to about 6% nationally.
Dr. Gross recently led a study at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, which showed that as levels of air pollution increase, so does a child’s length of stay at a hospital. Specifically, 10% for every 10 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air.
“And it might not seem like very much, but the average length of stay is close to two days,” Dr. Gross said. “And if you go from a relatively good air quality day to a relatively terrible air quality day, if you’re going up by five points, that’s about 50%.”
That equates to another half a day for five points or another whole day for ten points. That could mean possibly missed school for children and possibly missed worked and higher medical bills for parents.
It’s another reason parents such as Guy are being extra cautious with children in poor air quality days.
“Yea we always keep the windows closed,” she said.