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NCDOH: Niagara County residents urged to take precautions as unhealthy air quality is forecasted


Tue, Jun 27th 2023 06:55 pm

Submitted by the Niagara County Department of Health

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an air quality advisory for Wednesday, June 28. The weather forecast predicts an unhealthy (red AQI level – 151-200) air quality for Western New York and Niagara County. The Niagara County Department of Health (NCDOH) recommends all residents take precautions to reduce health risks associated with unhealthy air quality.

“Residents should remain inside as much as possible, with doors and windows closed, and use an air purifier or air conditioner with a high-efficiency filter,” said Paul Dicky, director of environmental health for the NCDOH.

Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said, “When the air quality index is unhealthy, people with heart or lung disease (asthma, COPD), older adults, children and teenagers, pregnant women, and outdoor workers are especially vulnerable. These individuals should avoid outdoor physical activity, sports and work.”

Employers with outdoor workers should shift activities indoors, if possible. For all residents, limiting the amount of time spent outdoors may reduce risks and prevent symptoms associated with unhealthy air quality, like wheezing and shortness of breath; coughing; eye, nose and throat irritation; sneezing; and fatigue. Breathing air polluted with fine particulate matter places strain on the heart and can quickly make heart conditions worse.

For those who must travel or work outdoors for an extended period of time, a properly fitted, high-quality mask (N-95) may help reduce exposure.

“Niagara County residents should become familiar with the U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI), a color-coded system developed by the EPA, with unhealthy air quality indicating greater personal health risk and increased need to take precautions,” Dicky said.

The unhealthy levels include:

√ Orange AQI level (101-150): Unhealthy for sensitive groups, which means members of sensitive or vulnerable groups may experience health effects.

√ Red AQI level (151-200): Categorized as unhealthy, means members of sensitive or vulnerable groups may experience more serious health effects, and some members of the general public may also experience health effects.

√ Purple AQI level (201-300): Very unhealthy, indicates the risk of health effects is increased for everyone.

√ Maroon AQI level (301-500): Hazardous, with health warnings of emergency conditions for the entire population.

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