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Release Date: 06/24/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality, with elevated levels of ground-level ozone, for tomorrow, June 25, in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and south coastal Maine.

Unhealthy air quality was recorded Wednesday in Connecticut, Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts and EPA expected data would show unhealthy air for Thursday in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and south coastal Maine.

Ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog, is unhealthy when average concentrations go above .08 parts per million over an eight-hour period. So far this summer there have been nine days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level.

Ground-level ozone (smog) is formed 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 powerplants, particularly on hot days, give off a lot of smog-making pollution. Gas 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 expected to reach peak load levels. Given the ozone and load forecasts, EPA is asking homeowners and employers to make a special effort to reduce electricity consumption. EPA asks employers to ask employees to dress casually, turn air conditioning down, and turn off unnecessary lights and computer screens. Homeowners are urged to turn their air conditioning down as well, and turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, such as televisions, computer screen and lights. They should defer household activities like laundry until later hours when demand is lower.

Poor air quality affects everyone, but some people are particularly sensitive to ozone, including children and adults who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma.

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. The most common systems of ozone exposure are coughing, pain when taking a deep breath, and for people with respiratory disease, shortness of breath.

When elevated ozone levels are expected, EPA recommends that people limit strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest.

"Ground-level ozone smog is a serious public health threat in the Northeast," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "We have made strides in our battles against smog in New Englanders, but each summer inevitably brings unhealthy ozone days. On those days, EPA and the medical community suggest residents refrain from strenuous outdoor activity."

When air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take ozone action. You or your employer can help get rid of ozone-smog by limiting the things you do that make air pollution. For instance:

    • use public transportation, bike or walk whenever possible;
    • if you must drive, car pool and combine trips;
    • go to the gas station 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;
    • use less electricity - turn air conditioning to a higher temperature, turn out lights and computer screens when you're not using them;
    • avoid using gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
In an effort to better inform New Englanders about "real-time" ozone levels, the EPA maintains an ozone mapping system, which shows real-time images and daily forecasts of ground-level ozone levels. The daily ozone forecast is available on the EPA's Wide Web air pollution information page at

Citizens can also sign up at this web address to receive smog alerts from EPA's New England office. Smog Alert is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail or fax when high concentrations of ground-level ozone are predicted in your area.Smog Alerts are issued to notify interested persons of predicted poor air quality in specific geographical areas of New England throughout the summer smog season, May through September.