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Poor Air Quality Predicted for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of Massachusetts for Wednesday, June 20
Release Date: 06/19/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)
BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality for Wednesday, June 20, with elevated levels of ground-level ozone predicted for all of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the southeastern portion of Massachusetts, including the Cape and the Islands. Tomorrow's forecast of hot weather is also expected to increase the demand for electricity in New England to reach peak load levels.
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, including Tuesday June 19, there have been ten days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded so far this summer can be found at https://www.epa.gov/region01/airquality/o3exceed-01.htm.)
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 symptoms of ozone exposure are coughing, pain when taking a deep breath, and for people with respiratory disease, shortness of breath.
"The medical community speaks loudly and clearly on this issue: When ozone levels are up, New Englanders should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "Up to 20 percent of summertime respiratory-related hospital visits in New England are directly attributable to ozone."
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.
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, 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;
- 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 air pollution web site at https://www.epa.gov/region01/aqi.
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 smog season, May through September.