Poor Air Quality Predicted in Most of New England for Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Unhealthy air quality is predicted for all of Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, western Massachusetts, and coastal Maine from Kittery to Lubec, for Tuesday, June 26, 2007. The air pollutant of concern is ground level ozone. The hot sunny weather forecast to last until Thursday may also cause unhealthy ozone for Wednesday and Thursday in these same areas, and perhaps spreading to other parts of New England. The forecast for hot weather tomorrow and Wednesday is also expected to cause the demand for electricity in New England to reach high load levels.
“We are expecting Tuesday to be another unhealthy air quality day in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA’s New England office. “On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity.”
Ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog, is unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.08 parts per million over an eight-hour period. So far this year, there have been 7 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded so far this summer can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-07.html.)
Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause serious breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. When smog levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems.
Ground-level ozone (smog) forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen interact in the presence of sunlight. Cars, trucks and buses give off the majority of the pollution that makes smog. Fossil fuel burning at electric power plants, particularly on hot days, give off a lot of smog-making pollution. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone smog.
Due to tomorrow’s forecast of hot weather, the demand for electricity in New England is forecast to reach high load levels. Given the ozone and high load forecasts, EPA is asking homeowners and employers to make a special effort to reduce their electricity consumption. EPA asks employers to consider asking their employees to dress casually and turn their air conditioning to a higher temperature setting and turn off any unnecessary lights and computers when not in use. Homeowners also are urged to turn their air conditioner to a higher temperature setting, turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, such as televisions, computers, or lights during the day, and to defer household activities like laundry until later hours.
When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take ozone action. The public can help reduce ozone-smog by:
- Using public transportation, car pooling and/or combining trips;
- Refueling cars at night to cut down on gasoline vapors getting into the air during day light hours when the sun can cook the vapors and form ozone;
- Avoiding the use of gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
In order to help New England residents prepare for poor air quality this summer, EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts. The real-time air quality data and forecasts are available at http://www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/index.html .
People can also sign up at http://cfpub.epa.gov/airnow/index.cfm?action=airnow.enviroflash to receive air quality alerts from EPA. The Enviroflash program is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail when poor air quality is predicted in your area.
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