The Cornell Ithaca campus and surrounding region are fortunate to experience low levels of environmental pollution and excellent outdoor air quality. However, wildfires in Canada during the summer of 2023 resulted in several episodes of poor outdoor air quality.
Poor air quality and elevated levels of pollutants can impact all of us! Those who may be especially sensitive include the very young, older adults, and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease.
When pollution levels are elevated, the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals limit strenuous outdoor physical activity (such as walking instead of running) to reduce their risk of adverse health effects. Those with related healthcare concerns should consider contacting their healthcare provider.
High quality masks, such as N95 and KN95 masks, can be worn outdoors to reduce the inhalation of fine particles from the air. Cloth masks and surgical masks are not effective at reducing inhalation of pollutants.
KN95 masks are available in the Cornell Police Department lobby in Barton Hall, at Cornell Health, in campus libraries, and at many Campus Life Community and Service Centers. Campus units can contact Facilities and Campus Services R5 Operations to obtain quantities of KN95 masks.
Campus units and individuals should monitor the current and forecast air quality and other weather conditions and forecasts. Use that information to evaluate planned outdoor activities and operations and adjust them as appropriate to protect the health and well-being of the campus community.