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What is an air quality alert?

Posted at 8:44 AM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-06 08:45:44-04

If you have respiratory issues, you may want to play it safe on Wednesday.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an air quality alert for all of Western New York except Allegany county. The alert runs from 11 a.m. Wednesday until 11 p.m. 

An air quality alert is issued when there is a high level of pollutants such as ozone near the surface that can potentially affect the health of people living in a designated area. Air quality alerts were designed by government agencies to communicate to the public how much pollution there is in the low levels of our atmosphere. The higher the number, the worse the air quality is. 

While ozone up high in our atmosphere helps protect us from harmful rays from the sun, ozone at the surface is harmful to your lungs and health. 

Harmful ozone occurs when oxide nitrogen gasses and chemical reactions from volatile organic compounds mix together. Sunlight and heat help combine oxide nitrogen gasses and volatile organic compounds to form smog. Cars, trucks and factories are all big contributors to ozone pollution. 

Breathing in pollutants such as ozone is harmful to your health, and can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory issues.

For Wednesday, Air Quality Index is around 100. Most folks living in Western New York are not affected by the alert. However, if you are sensitive to pollutants, it is a good idea to take it easy.