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Free Air Quality Forecasts and Alerts as the Summer Smog Season Starts Air Quality Awareness Week, April 30 to May 4, 2007
Release Date: 04/30/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
(04/30/07) – As a kick off to Air Quality Awareness Week, which begins today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Weather Service remind people to be prepared if there is poor air quality this summer by taking advantage of free EPA air quality forecasts and alerts. People can protect their health by paying attention to local air quality.
- use public transportation or walk whenever possible;
- combine errands and car-pool to reduce driving time and trips;
- 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;
- avoid using gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
Cars, trucks, and buses are a primary source of the pollutants that make smog. Fossil fuel burning (coal, oil and natural gas) at electric power plants, particularly on hot days, also generates significant smog-forming pollution. Gas stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment, also contribute to smog formation.
The federal Clean Air Act has led to significant improvements in ozone air quality over the past 25 years. In 1983, New England had 90 unhealthy days due to ground-level ozone, compared with 43 days in 2002 and 16 days last year.
EPA has taken a number of steps to further reduce air pollution. Since 2004, new cars, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and mini-vans are meeting stringent new emission standards. The requirements will be phased in through 2009 resulting in vehicles that are 77 to 95 percent cleaner than older models. Also, EPA’s standards for new (starting with model year 2007) diesel trucks and buses will reduce NOx and particulate matter emissions by up to 95 percent.
In addition, EPA has issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule to help reduce the transport of air pollution from power plants across state boundaries. When fully implemented, this rule will reduce power plant NOx emissions by over 60 percent and sulfur dioxide by over 70 percent from 2003 levels.
Finally, additional improvements in air quality are expected as states implement plans to meet the 8-hour ozone standard. In 2004, EPA formally designated areas that were not meeting the 8-hour ozone standard as “nonattainment.” Maine’s air quality has since improved and in December 2006, EPA declared Maine as having achieved the ozone standard. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are out of compliance with the standard. These states must submit plans by June 15, 2007 that will outline how they will meet the standard by the end of 2009.
Air Quality Awareness Week ( epa.gov/airnow/airaware )
A map showing 8-hour ozone nonattainment areas in New England ( epa.gov/ne/airquality/nattainm.html )