County Health Department Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announced an Air Quality Health Advisory covering Rockland and the metropolitan New York area has been issued for Wednesday. The advisory issued by the New York State Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation is for ozone levels in the air which are expected to exceed national air quality standards, and be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
With the advisory comes a recommendation to limit strenuous outdoor physical activity, such as jogging, ball-playing and running during the afternoon and early evening hours when ozone levels are highest. Although all individuals may be affected by ozone exposure, some people may be more sensitive than others. Young children, the elderly, people with pre-existing lung disease such as asthma and people with pre-existing heart disease or high blood pressure may be more seriously affected during an ozone advisory.
People exposed to elevated levels of ozone can experience symptoms such as irritation in the eyes, nose and throat or respiratory or heart symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, and wheezing.
Even without symptoms, individuals exposed to ozone may have changes in their lungs that can last for several days causing them to feel tired or lack energy before returning to normal. Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain or coughing should consult their doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
“Ozone levels are usually highest after noon and through early evening hours on hot, sunny days, and therefore this part of the day is the peak time for symptoms,” noted Ruppert. “Performing vigorous exercise outdoors such as running also makes a person more likely to experience symptoms from exposure to ozone.”
Information about current air quality conditions can be obtained through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Air Quality Hotline at 1-800-535-1345, or its web site www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/aqi/aqi_forecast.cfm or calling the NYSDOH Environmental Hotline toll-free at 1-800-458-1158 or by visiting www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/outdoors/air/ozone.htm.