Poor Air Quality Predicted in Parts of New England for Saturday, August 25, 2007
Unhealthy ozone air quality is predicted for portions of northern Connecticut; most of Massachusetts, except the South Coast, Cape and Islands; southern New Hampshire and along southwestern coastal Maine for Saturday. The pollutant of concern is ozone, but particulate matter (also called soot) is also expected to be elevated, especially in western Connecticut and most of Massachusetts, except the South Coast, Cape and Islands.
“We are expecting Saturday to be another unhealthy air quality day in parts of 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 20 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded 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. Exposure to elevated particulate levels can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravate heart or lung disease, and may cause premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease.
When ozone levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems. In addition, when particulate concentrations in the ambient air are elevated, people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged exertion.
Ground-level ozone 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 generating stations, particularly on hot days, emits 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. Major sources of particulate pollution are factories, power plants, trash incinerators, motor vehicles, construction activity, and fires.
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, and leaf blowers.
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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