Thursday, March 30, 2023

Mark Your Calendars: Ozone Season is Almost Here

air smog over Lake Champlain

April showers bring May flowers, but that’s not all April brings. April 1 to September 30 marks the ozone forecast season in the Northeast. During this time, New Yorkers should pay extra attention to the daily Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast, as an air quality health advisory is more likely to occur during these months.

Ground-level ozone is air pollution formed by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight. Ozone levels tend to be higher on hot, sunny, windless days, making it much more prevalent in the summer. High levels of ozone make the air unhealthy to breathe and can cause several health problems.

Air quality health advisories are issued when the AQI is forecasted to go above 100 on the AQI scale, indicating that the public should take extra precautions. Simple steps, such as limiting outdoor exercise, children’s outdoor playtime, or staying indoors during an air quality health advisory, will help protect individuals who are especially sensitive to poor air quality. Parents with very young children, the elderly, and those with preexisting health conditions, like asthma, should take precautions to protect their loved ones when the AQI is high.

Air quality index (AQI) legend. NYS DEC photo.

In 2022, there were 12 days when one or more air quality monitors in NYS recorded an exceedance of the ozone standard. Don’t let this keep you from enjoying the warm weather. Starting in April, remember to check the daily AQI forecast before you head outside.


Stay Informed about Your Air Quality

NYS’ ozone season runs from April through September. DEC publishes ground-level ozone forecasts during ozone season and particulate matter pollution forecasts year-round using a scale called the Air Quality Index (AQI). DEC sends out an air quality alert when there is a high AQI value, which indicates polluted air. Individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, and people who exercise outdoors should take caution during an air quality alert. Find out if an Air Quality Alert is in effect by calling the toll-free Ozone Hotline: 1-800-535-1345.

The AQI can be accessed in three ways:

Photo at top: Photos taken from the Burlington, Vermont haze cams looking across Lake Champlain at the Adirondack Mountains. Left photo: An ozone haze blocks the view of the lake and mountains in the background in 2001. Right photo: A clear view showing the lake and mountains taken in 2006. Photo Credit: Camnet real-time air pollution & visibility monitoring haze cams, Burlington, Vermont reference photos.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

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