Air Pollution Protection

Protecting Yourself and Reducing Air Pollution on Poor Air Quality Days

Poor air quality is an important threat to the health of NYC residents. During the summertime, warm weather, along with strong sunshine, can lead to high levels of ground-level ozone, or "smog." Throughout the year, NYC may experience poor air quality due to high concentrations of small — also called fine — particles (PM2.5) found in the air.

How do I know when the air quality is poor in New York City?

Check forecasted air quality levels at AirNow and at the Air Quality Index. Listen to the radio and TV for air quality health alerts.

Sign up to get air quality forecasts and alerts for your location by email, text, or smart phone apps. Learn how.

What are the health effects and who is most at risk?

Elevated ozone levels can limit a person's ability to take a deep breath, and can trigger symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation, and breathing discomfort. Children and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, can be sensitive to the effects of ozone, and even healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors can experience the unhealthy effects of ozone pollution.

Fine particle (PM2.5) air pollution has been linked to worsening of many serious health problems including heart and lung diseases, cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are especially at risk when levels of fine particles are elevated.

What can I do to protect myself and others on poor air quality days?

Know if you have a health condition that makes you especially sensitive to air pollution.

Spend less time outdoors and in strenuous physical activity on poor air quality days. Plan outdoor activities when pollution levels are lower, and try to avoid exercising near busy roadways.

Visit AirNow to learn about the Air Quality Index and how it applies to you and your family.

How can I help reduce air pollution?

Reduce energy use at home and at work. Conserve electricity and heating fuel. Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or low cool and lower your heat thermostat in winter. For useful tips on saving energy – and money - visit GREENYC and EPA

Choose a cleaner commute - car-pool, use public transportation, bike or walk when possible. Biking and walking are a great way to get exercise daily. To get more information on biking resources available in NYC, visit the NYC Department of Transportation.

Get involved in protecting the City's air. Support policies and initiatives to reduce emissions from buildings and promote energy conservation. Visit New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection and PlaNYC to learn what the City is doing to improve air quality.

If you're considering purchasing indoor air cleaning devices for your home, get tips on selecting appropriate products from EPA and California Air Resources Board.

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