New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D., issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for Western New York, Eastern Lake Ontario, and Central New York regions for Friday, May 21.
The pollutant of concern is: Ozone.
The advisory will be in effect 11 a.m. through 11 p.m.
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 (AQI) 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.
Summer heat can lead to the formation of ground-level ozone, 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. This surface pollutant should not be confused with the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere.
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).
When outdoor levels of ozone are elevated, going indoors will usually reduce your exposure. Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consider consulting their doctor.
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.
New Yorkers also are urged to take the following energy-saving and pollution-reducing steps:
- use mass transit or carpool instead of driving, as automobile emissions account for about 60 percent of pollution in our cities;
- conserve fuel and reduce exhaust emissions by combining necessary motor vehicle trips;
- turn off all lights and electrical appliances in unoccupied areas;
- use fans to circulate air. If air conditioning is necessary, set thermostats at 78 degrees;
- close the blinds and shades to limit heat build-up and to preserve cooled air;
- limit use of household appliances. If necessary, run the appliances at off-peak (after 7 p.m.) hours. These would include dishwashers, dryers, pool pumps and water heaters;
- set refrigerators and freezers at more efficient temperatures;
- purchase and install energy efficient lighting and appliances with the Energy Star label; and
- reduce or eliminate outdoor burning and attempt to minimize indoor sources of PM 2.5 such as smoking. 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.
Additional information on ozone and PM 2.5 is available on DEC's website and http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/ozone.htm on DOH's website.
Today's Air Quality Health Advisory region consist of the following: Region 6 Eastern Lake Ontario, which includes Monroe, Wayne, North Cayuga, Oswego, and Jefferson counties; Region 7 Central New York, which includes Allegany, Broome, Southern Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Southern Herkimer, Livingston, Madison, Onondaga, Oneida, Ontario, Otsego, Tioga, Tompkins, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, and Yates counties; and Region 8 Western New York, which includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Wyoming, Genesee, Niagara, and Orleans counties.