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An ozone health advisory is in effect today on Long Island, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced this afternoon.

Levels of the pollutant ground-level ozone are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups.

All residents, especially young children, seniors, those who exercise or are involved in strenuous outdoor work and those with pre-existing respiratory or heart problems should limit outdoor activity, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said in a press release.

Ozone levels are often elevated from midday through early evening on hot, sunny days, the health department said.

Ground level ozone is produced by by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight, according to EPA.gov. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC.

The federal environmental protection agency warns that elevated ground-level ozone can cause:

  • irritation of the airway, coughing and pain when taking a deep breath;
  • wheezing and breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities; inflammation, which is much like a sunburn on the skin;
  • aggravation of asthma and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis; and
  • permanent lung damage with repeated exposures

Air Quality Forecasts are available on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Information about ozone and health is available from the N.Y. State Department of Health.

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