A rare winter air quality alert has been issued for Westchester and Rockland, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The alert will expire at midnight Thursday
The alert warns that there are unhealthy amounts of fine particulate matter in the air. Particulate matter includes dust, dirt, soot and smoke.
Fine particles have been linked to serious health problems because they are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract and reaching the lungs.
Exposure can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to elevated levels of fine particles can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
People with heart or breathing problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to fine particles.
Air quality warnings are more common in warmer weather.