On Tuesday, for the second day in a row, an “air quality health advisory” was issued for the New York City metro area by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health (DOH).
The advisory comes in response to higher-than-usual levels of ozone detected in the air in NYC and the Lower Hudson Valley.
The most familiar form of ozone is the ozone that forms a layer way up in the Earth’s atmosphere, protecting us from ultraviolet rays. But when ozone forms at ground level, it’s considered a major air pollutant — and a health hazard, if levels exceed an Air Quality Index of 100. (As they did on Monday, and are expected to do on Tuesday.)
“Summer heat can lead to the formation of ground level ozone, a major component of photochemical smog,” says the DEC in a statement. “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.”
The health advisory will be in effect through 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.
During this time, the DEC recommends that:
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.
For more information, New Yorkers can call the toll-free Air Quality Hotline (1-800-535-1345) or check the ozone fact sheet on the DOH website.