Why an Air Quality Alert was issued for much of Western New York

Posted at 12:41 PM, May 25, 2018

The sun is out, it's borderline hot outside and nature is doing its best to cool us down near the shores of Lake Erie and Ontario. Both lakes play a role as to why an Air Quality Alert was issued for much of Western New York, including right here in Buffalo. 

The National Weather Service issues an Air Quality Alert when the air you breathe may become unsafe, especially for people who suffer from asthma or elderly. Pollutants such as ground-level ozone from the exhaust of cars and factories mix in with the oxygen we breathe. This happens on hot summer-like days. Sunlight creates chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, according to the EPA

Both Lake Erie and Ontario play a key role in trapping pollutants such as ozone from escaping, especially this time of year. The air off both lakes is colder than the air on land. This creates a cap, or an inversion over our heads, preventing that air to rise and mix out.

No, this doesn't mean you have to cancel your outdoor plans. However, you should not push yourself to the extreme. As always on warm-sunny days, drink plenty of fluids. 


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