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Monday, July 18, 2011

Air Quality Alert Issued; Storm Possible Monday Afternoon

Residents are encouraged to refrain from strenuous outdoor activities.

An Air Quality Alert has been issued in Westchester County and the surrounding area, beginning at 10:45 p.m. tonight.
The alert is in effect until 1 a.m. on Tuesday, July 19.
According to the National Weather Service, the alert is due to air quality levels outside are "greater" than 100 on the Air Quality Index (AQI), a system measuring pollutants.
The NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation monitors ozone conditions every weekday morning in the summer.
A higher number on the AQI indicates higher levels of pollution, so the Dept. of Health is recommending limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity today to avoid potential health problems—especially young and elderly people, as well as anyone with asthma or heart disease.
"Breathing outdoor air with high ozone levels, even for a short period of time (hours or days), can affect health," according to an "Ozone Fact Sheet" from the Dept. of Health.
"Short-term ozone exposure has been linked with adverse effects. Eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory symptoms and decreases in lung function have occurred in healthy, exercising people breathing air containing elevated levels of ozone. Respiratory symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing, and may occur in both adults and children. In community studies, days with high outdoor ozone levels tend to have increased hospitalizations for respiratory conditions and increased daily mortality rates. More limited evidence suggests that short-term exposure to elevated ozone levels might also aggravate heart symptoms in people with pre-existing heart disease or high blood pressure."
Additionally, breathing air with high ozone levels over the course of years can permanently affect health, potentially increasing the likelihood of asthma developing in children.
The National Weather Service predicts a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms on Monday, with a high of about 91 degrees, in the Briarcliff Manor/Pleasantville area.
Storms may also bring hail, high winds, heavy rain and lightening to the area.
The chance of rain goes up to 50 percent Monday night. 
Tuesday is expected to be clear, with a high of approximately 90 degrees.

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