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News Releases from Region 01

Poor Air Quality Expected Friday for Coastal New England

Contact Information: 
Dave Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON – New England state air quality forecasters are predicting air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups, due to ground-level ozone, in much of southern New England for Friday, July 15. The areas that are predicted to exceed the Federal air quality standard for ozone on Friday are: Coastal Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts (including Cape Cod and the Islands), and Southern and Central coastal Maine (including Acadia National Park). The poorest air quality is usually measured from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. A map of these areas can be found at: https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/forecast.html.

"When we anticipate unhealthy air quality, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "On these days, people can also help reduce emissions by choosing to carpool, use public transportation, and limit the use of electricity during peak electrical use hours."

Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunshine. Cars, trucks and buses give off the majority of the pollution create ozone. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and some cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add to the ozone problem.

When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, EPA asks the public to take action. The public can help reduce ozone by:

  • use public transportation or walk whenever possible;
  • combine errands and car-pool to reduce driving time and mileage;
  • use less electricity by turning air conditioning to a higher temperature setting, and turning off lights, TVs and computers when they are not being used; and
  • avoid using small gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.

Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. When ozone levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems.

On October 1, 2015, EPA strengthened the ozone standard to a more protective level of 0.070 parts per million (ppm). This level is chosen, because it is requisite to protect public health. The older standard did not provide the same level of health protection. So far this year, there have been 15 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard (an exceedance).

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