NYC Air Quality Improves After Reaching ‘Unhealthy' Level Due to Newark Port Fire

Eyewitnesses reported smelling the Port of Newark fire as far away as the East River in Manhattan

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A large fire raged at the Port of Newark early Tuesday morning, and New York City's air quality quickly deteriorated as the smell of smoke wafted through Manhattan and Brooklyn.

As the fire burned, the air quality index (AQI) at Central Park rose as high as 152, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, even those otherwise in good health. At that level, the EPA recommends everyone consider reducing time outdoors or staying inside altogether.

By noon, though, the levels had dropped sharply, back down to 117.

The primary pollutant was listed as PM2.5, or "particle pollution", which can come from a fire.

(The higher the index, the worse the air quality. The index was only 75 at 8 a.m., and has on average been below 75 in the city for the last month, according to the EPA's AirNow website.)

The EPA said the air quality has improved throughout the day.

News 4 eyewitnesses reported the smoke could be seen and smelled as far away as 1st Avenue in Manhattan and the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

The fire started about 8 p.m. Monday at a scrap metal recycling facility.

Excavators moved burning debris at the scrap metal recycling plant throughout the day.

The fire on Calcutta Street in the Port of Newark neighborhood was going strong as firefighters surrounded the scene. 

It is unclear how it started or exactly how long it will take to get it fully-contained.

No injuries were reported.

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