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New England Experienced Fewer Unhealthy Air Quality Days During Summer Ozone Season

Release Date: 10/01/2014
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

BOSTON – EPA today confirmed that New Englanders experienced a decrease in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared to 2013, and an even greater decrease when compared to 2012.

Based on preliminary data collected between April and September 2014, there were 9 days when ozone monitors in New England recorded concentrations above levels considered healthy. By contrast, in 2012 there were a total of 29 unhealthy ozone days, and in 2013 there were a total of 20 such days.

The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer is as follows:
- 8 days in
Connecticut (compared to 18 in 2013, and 27 in 2012)
- 1 day in
New Hampshire (3 in 2013, and 3 in 2012)
- 0 days in
Rhode Island (7 in 2013, and 11 in 2012)
- 0 days in
Massachusetts (6 in 2013, and 17 in 2012)
- 0 days in
Maine (5 in 2013, and 4 in 2012)
- 0 days in
Vermont (0 in 2012, and 0 in 2013).

Although the number of unhealthy days may vary from year to year due to weather conditions, over the long-term, New England has experienced a significant decrease in the number of unhealthy ozone days. In 1983, New England had 113 unhealthy days, compared with 9 this year. This downward trend is due to a reduction in the emissions that form ozone.

“We can all feel proud of the progress we have made in reducing ozone pollution over the past several decades,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Exhaust from cars and trucks is a big contributor to formation of ground-level ozone, and EPA’s historic National Clean Car standards will help us all to breath cleaner air and save money. This program doubles fuel economy standards by 2025, cuts vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by half, and will save American families a whopping $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs.”

Ozone levels are unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.075 parts per million over an 8-hour period. Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles give off the majority of the pollution that makes ozone. Fossil fuels burning at electric power plants, which run at high capacities on hot days, emit substantial amounts of ozone-making pollution. Gas stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, also contribute to ozone formation.

Although the 2014 ozone season is ending, pollution from small particles in the air is a year-round concern. Daily air quality forecasts will continue to be available online, as well as email alerts when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or small particles are predicted to occur.

More information:

- Sign up for Free air quality forecasts

- Historical charts of unhealthy air days from 1983 through 2014:

- Preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded this summer by date and monitor location, and corresponding air quality maps for each day:

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