For months, we’ve been waiting for the weather that we have today. 

After putting up with snow storms, freezing rain, and freezing temperatures for far too long, Western New York deserves a gorgeous spring day that feels like summer. 

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the forecast you may not have thought of, so some of us need to be extra careful while we’re soaking up the sun today. 

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Air Quality Advisory Issued For Buffalo And Surrounding Areas On Friday

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for Western New York beginning 11 am through 11 pm tonight, with an Air Quality Index above levels considered safe because of an increase in ground-level ozone. 

Air Quality Index NYS

What Is The Air Quality Index?

Scientists developed the Air Quality Index (aka AQI) scale as an easy way to let the public know how clean or polluted the air is and if they should be concerned with any corresponding health effects. 

An AQI of 100 or below is safe for most people, but levels above that could pose a danger. The higher the AQI value, the greater the risk of health concerns. 

Friday, Western New York’s AQI will measure 101, slightly higher than what’s acceptable, and the decrease in air quality could prove to be a struggle for some sensitive groups of people. 

Good Ozone vs Bad Ozone

The ozone layer that most of us are familiar with exists high above us in the atmosphere. This is the good stuff - it shields us from the sun’s harmful rays, keeping humans, plants and animals alive (probably why environmental activists are so adamant we don’t - ya know- destroy it with chemicals).  

Ground level ozone, aka the “bad kind” of ozone, is the main contributing factor in smog. It’s created when emissions (from things like cars, power plants and other industrial facilities) react with sunlight. 

Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high near 80 degrees - a perfect storm for producing smog. 

Smog during rush hour traffic

Should Western New Yorkers Be Concerned About The Air Quality?

Most Western New York residents will be fine spending time outside with an AQI over 100. However, some that are vulnerable could experience some health effects. 

Children, elderly adults, and people with asthma or other chronic lung diseases should be careful when spending time outside on Friday, as they are more sensitive to breathing issues from the high level of smog. 

It’s advised if you fall into one of those groups that you minimize your time outdoors, especially during rush hour when more cars are on the road. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor right away:

  • Increased coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased lung function

Of course, take advantage of this awesome weather and spend time outside today! But if you have any breathing issues, be sure to take breaks indoors and try not to expose yourself when the risk is highest.

Don’t forget the sunscreen!

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