2012 0717 hazy beach scene

The N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health have issued an air quality health advisory for ground-level ozone today. The advisory remains in effect until 11 p.m. tonight.

DEC and DOH issue air quality health advisories when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter are expected to exceed an air quality index value of 100. The AQI was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale, with a higher AQI value indicating a greater health concern, officials say.

Today’s AQI is expected to reach 110 on Long Island and 101 in the NYC region.

Ground-level ozone is a major component of photochemical smog. Automobile exhaust and out-of-state emission sources are the primary sources of ground-level ozone and are the most serious air pollution problems in the northeast, according to the DEC. This surface pollutant should not be confused with the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere.

Health officials say people — especially young children, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work and those who have respiratory disease (such as asthma) — should consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity when ozone levels are the highest (generally afternoon to early evening). Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consider consulting their doctor, the health department said in a press release/

Ozone levels generally decrease at night and can be minimized during daylight hours by curtailment of automobile travel and the use of public transportation where available.

A toll-free Air Quality Hotline (1-800-535-1345) has been established by DEC to keep New Yorkers informed of the latest air quality situation.

Further information on ozone and PM 2.5 is available on DEC’s web site at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8400.html and http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/ozone.htm on DOH’s website.

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