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State issues smog alert for Wedneday in Western New York

A smog alert covers nearly all of Western New York on Wednesday, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC cautioned air quality levels could become unhealthy for some sensitive groups like the young, old, asthmatics and those with a respiratory disease. The alerts lasts between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Wednesday in Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

The Air Quality Index, a formula for reporting the quality of the outdoor air, suggests it could rise above 100 for ozone pollution.

Figures below 50 are considered to be good air quality, with 50 to 100 regarded as moderately “acceptable.”

Figures of 101 to 150 on the index are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups with 151 to 200 unhealthy to everyone.

In other words, “the higher the air quality index value, the greater the health concern,” according to a statement by the National Weather Service.

On Monday, the ozone index reached 64. It was expected to remain at that level Tuesday.

Wednesday’s ozone forecast shows a value of 101, according to the DEC.

Although forecasts aren’t available beyond Wednesday, it’s possible more alerts will come over the next week when temperatures are expected to surge into the mid-80s in time for Memorial Day weekend, reports show.

Ground ozone, also known as smog, is created when chemical by-products resulting from combustion react with heat and sunlight.

The state Health Department recommends that during times of elevated pollution levels “individuals consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.”

Breathing and cardiovascular problems can be associated with high ozone levels, which essentially is creating a “sunburn”-like effect in the lungs.

email: tpignataro