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Poor Air Quality Predicted in New England States for Monday, Aug. 6 and Tuesday, Aug. 7

Release Date: 08/06/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013 Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1042

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality for parts of New England on both Monday, Aug. 6 and Tuesday, Aug. 7.

On Monday, unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone are predicted for most of southern New England except the southeastern portion. Unhealthy levels are also predicted in the coastal areas of northern New England.

On Tuesday unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone are predicted throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and most of Massachusetts.

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, there have been 23 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:

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.

"Ground-level ozone smog is one of the Northeast's biggest public health threats," said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA's New England office. "Although we've made progress combating smog, New Englanders inevitably face unhealthy ozone days during hot weather such as that we are having this week. When those days occur, EPA and the medical community suggest residents refrain from strenuous outdoor activity."

Ground-level ozone 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.
Additionally, due to today and tomorrow's forecast of hot weather, the demand for electricity in New England is forecast to reach peak load levels. Given the ozone and peak load forecasts, EPA is asking homeowners and employers to make a special effort to reduce their electricity consumption. EPA asks employers to consider asking their employees to dress casually and turn their air conditioning to a higher temperature setting and turn off any unnecessary lights and computers when not in use. Homeowners also are urged to turn their air conditioner to a higher temperature setting, turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, such as televisions, computers, or lights during the day, and to defer household activities like laundry until later hours.

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:

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.