File photo: Denise Civiletti

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an air quality health advisory today for the pollutant ground-level ozone.

The advisory is in effect for Long Island, the New York City metro region and the lower Hudson Valley from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Outdoor air quality levels today are expected to have an air quality index value in excess of 100 on Long Island. An air quality index of greater than 100 is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to health officials.

Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

The air quality index, or AQI, was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale. The higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern. An AQI of greater than 150 is considered unhealthy for all. If the AQI exceeds 200, the air is considered “very unhealthy.”

A number of factors influence ozone formation, including emissions from cars, trucks, buses, power plants, and industries, along with weather conditions, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Weather is especially favorable for ozone formation when it’s hot, dry and sunny.

When pollution levels are elevated, the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects. People who may be especially sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of pollutants include the very young and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease. Those with symptoms should consider consulting their personal physician.

A toll-free air quality hotline has been established so New York residents can stay informed on the air quality situation. The toll-free number is 1-800-535-1345.

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