People walk the boardwalk at Sunken Meadow State Park on...

People walk the boardwalk at Sunken Meadow State Park on Monday. Experts said adults and children with asthma and other respiratory diseases should consider limiting strenuous outdoor activity. Credit: Rick Kopstein

State officials issued Long Island's first air quality advisory of the year as ozone levels rose to potentially unhealthy levels.

The advisory extends through 11 p.m. Monday.

Ozone levels are highest in the afternoon and early evening, according to the state Health Department and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Adults and children with asthma and other respiratory diseases should consider limiting strenuous outdoor activity, experts said.

“When you see these ozone alerts, there is usually a high heat index as well,” said Dr. Fred Davis, associate chair at Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s emergency department. “Those with respiratory and cardiovascular disease are more vulnerable and could have difficulty breathing. Even younger kids with smaller lungs can be more susceptible so you want to make sure they are not outside for long periods of time.”

Davis said parents should be on alert if their children are coughing a lot and taking deeper breaths while playing outside. The elderly are also susceptible, so they should stay inside with the air conditioners on at a comfortable level. Staying hydrated is also key, he said.

Ground level ozone is created when pollutants from cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries and chemical plants react in the presence of sunlight, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ozone levels are more likely to be high on hot, sunny days.

The air quality index exceeded 101 on Monday for both Nassau and Suffolk counties, pushing it into the category of being unhealthy for certain groups of people.

Ozone pollution is different from wildfire smoke and the dangerous particulate matter it carries. Last summer, Canadian wildfires pushed smoke into New York and other parts of the Northeast, covering the landscape with haze and bringing days of unhealthy air quality.

Studies showed there was a 55% increase in emergency department visits for asthma-associated illness across Long Island on June 7 — one of the worst days of the wildfire smoke.

And asthma-associated emergency department visits went up 19% nationwide during the 19 days when wildfire smoke was rated “unhealthy for sensitive groups” between April 30 and Aug. 4, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, smoke from wildfires in Canada raised air quality alerts in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin.

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