NEW CITY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert are alerting residents that an Air Quality Health Advisory for the Metropolitan New York City region, including Rockland County, has been issued for Thursday, May 18, 2017.
Air Quality Health Advisories are issued by the New York State Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation when levels of outdoor pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter, are expected to exceed national air quality standards, and be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
The pollutant of concern for the Air Quality Health Advisory is ozone
The Rockland County Department of Health recommends that residents 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. It is very important that these individuals reduce their exposure during an advisory and limit all outdoor exercise and physical exertion when ozone levels are elevated. It is helpful to remain in an air-conditioned location.
People exposed to elevated levels of ozone may experience a variety of symptoms. The most common symptom is a feeling of irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Some people may also experience respiratory or heart symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and wheezing. Even without such symptoms, people exposed to ozone may have changes in their lung function that can last for several days before returning to normal. Some people experience these effects as “feeling tired” or “lacking energy.” Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain or coughing should consult their doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
There are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure during an ozone advisory. Whenever possible, try to limit outdoor activities during peak ozone hours. Schedule outdoor exercise or activities for the morning hours when ozone levels are generally lower. “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. Performing vigorous exercise outdoors such as running also makes a person more likely to experience symptoms from exposure to ozone,” said Dr. Ruppert.
Residents can stay informed about current air quality conditions by calling the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Air Quality Hotline at 1-800-535-1345, or by visiting their web site www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/aqi/aqi_forecast.cfm.
Information is also available by calling the NYSDOH Environmental Hotline toll-free at 1-800-458-1158 or by visiting www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/ozone.htm.