High Ozone Levels Can Cause Respiratory Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An air quality alert has been issued for much of New York City and the northern suburbs, due to concerns about ozone levels.

The alert has been issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and will be in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. It affects all the city’s boroughs except Staten Island, as well as Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties.

Outdoor air quality levels are predicted to be greater than 100 for ground-level ozone, according to the National Weather Service.

Index levels greater than 100 can be dangerous for people with lung disease such as asthma, children and older adults, and people who are active outdoors. The state Department of Health recommends that people limit strenuous outdoor physical activity.

Those who suffer respiratory symptoms should contact a doctor.

Ozone is a colorless gas made up of three atoms of oxygen. In the upper atmosphere, ozone shields the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, but at ground level, it is a potentially dangerous pollutant.

Ground-level ozone is formed when pollutants from vehicles, construction equipment and other sources that burn fuel react with sunlight.

High levels of ozone can make it difficult to breathe deeply, cause shortness of breath and pain upon deep breathing, cause coughing and a sore throat, and even damage the lungs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Hot and humid conditions were expected for a third straight day in the Tri-State Area Saturday, CBS 2’s John Elliott reported. New York City can expect a forecast high of 88 degrees, and outlying areas may see highs in the 90s.

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