Newsday: LIers cope with poor air quality, heat

Heeding the state's warnings to limit exposure to air pollution, Judi Cestarr, 54, of Bayport, and Jeanne Soto, 38, of Bohemia, changed their daily lunchtime run to a walk.

"If the weather's like this, it can be challenging getting your breathing under control when you run," Cestarr said. "You need to adjust your workout."

The state Department of Environmental Conservation's advisory Thursday cautioned people to limit outdoor physical activity, especially for children, people over 65, and people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

"We just encourage people to -- if they can -- stay inside," DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said. "That's the safest thing to do."

Ozone, the main ingredient in smog, chemically reacts with the lungs and is harmful when breathed in large quantities, said Michael Seilback, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association.

"It's like sunburn on your lungs," he said. "It could lead to wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, cardiovascular issues and even premature death."

Thursday marked the fifth ozone advisory issued by the DEC this year, Severino said. Last year, there were 13 advisories, which was slightly more than the average 10, she said.

Vehicle exhaust is a major factor in the creation of ground-level ozone, Severino said, and stagnant summer heat causes the pollutants to be thicker in the air.

Another main factor is out-of-state emission sources such as power plants, but those may soon be curbed by a rule finalized Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule requires 27 states to reduce power-plant emissions that contribute to ozone and fine-particle pollution in other states.

Meanwhile, many people have no choice and must work outside.

At Farmingdale State College Thursday, a lacrosse camp with 180 youths, ages 9 to 17, was in full swing, but coaches said they provided cooling stations and water breaks every eight minutes to ensure the students stayed healthy.

Construction workers replacing a roof at the college were also stuck outside, but they were more concerned with the weather than the air quality anyway, said foreman Gilbert Acevdo, 48, of Staten Island. They wear long-sleeve shirts to prevent sunburn on sunny days, he said, but poor air quality is just part of the job.

"I know that the air quality sometimes is bad," he said. "But to be honest with you, I do not pay attention because I have to work."