Ozone Level A Cause For Concern


No. You’re not dying — your planet is.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an ozone health advisory on Thursday, August 22, for Long Island and the Metropolitan region.

It is an all-too-frequent event in recent years, state officials said.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken advised 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, to “limit strenuous outdoor activity.”

Ozone levels are often elevated after noon through early evening on hot, sunny days, said Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the state DEC. “We have air quality monitors all over the state,” she said. In the more populated regions, ozone tends to “sit in the air” when temperatures are peaking.

“An advisory is a warning to stop using energy,” Severino said. Auto exhausts, air conditioning, and assorted pollutants all contribute to the problem, she explained.

Whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be harmful to your health. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and lung irritation. On August 22, the New York Metro region had the highest ozone layers in the state.

According to the DEC, ground level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created in the air itself. Ozone forms on hot sunny days when pollution from cars, power plants, consumer products, and other sources react with sunlight.

Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including: eye irritation, chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and decreased lung function, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, increased likelihood of asthma attacks, and inflammation of the lungs.

Ozone can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, leading to increased medical care.

The New York State Air Quality Hotline is 800-535-1345. If you would like to be notified when daily air quality reaches a level of your choice, you can sign up for Enviroflash at www.enviroflash.info.

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