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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Portions of New England for Thurs. June 9 and Fri. June 10
Release Date: 06/09/2005
Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017, email@example.com
For Immediate Release: June 9, 2005; Release # dd050602
BOSTON – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for the afternoon of Thurs. June 9, with unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone predicted in Connecticut and in central and western Massachusetts. In addition, unhealthy levels of fine particles are expected in eastern and northern Maine today, with high moderate levels expected throughout the rest of Maine. The elevated levels of fine particles in Maine are mostly due to forest fires burning in Canada.
On Fri. June 10, unhealthy air quality is predicted in western and interior Connecticut due to ground-level ozone. Furthermore, elevated levels of fine particles are expected tomorrow in Connecticut and Rhode Island, with unhealthy levels expected in Hartford and New Haven, Conn.
“It is unfortunate that warm weather can trigger unhealthy air quality in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA's New England office. “When smog levels are up, residents should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity."
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 his year, there have been 4 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. Concentrations are also expected to exceed this level today in Connecticut and in western and central Massachusetts. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded so far this summer.)
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. Exposure to elevated particulate levels can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravate heart or lung disease, and cause premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly.
When smog levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems. In addition, when particulate concentrations in the ambient air are elevated, people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged exertion.
Ground-level ozone (smog) forms 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. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone smog.
Major sources of particulate pollution are factories, power plants, trash incinerators, motor vehicles, construction activity, and fires.
When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take ozone action. The public can help reduce ozone-smog by limiting the things they do that make air pollution. For instance, they can:
- Use public transportation, car pool and/or combine trips;
- Refuel their cars 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 order to help New England residents prepare for poor air quality this summer, EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts. The real-time air quality data and forecasts are available at https://www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/index.html .
People can also sign up at this web address to receive air quality alerts from EPA’s New England office. The alert program is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail or fax when poor air quality is predicted in your area.
The federal Clean Air Act has led to significant improvements in air quality over the past 20 years. In 1983, New England had 90 unhealthy days due to ozone smog, compared with 43 days in 2002, and 17 and 13 days during the cool summers of 2003 and 2004, respectively. Overall, ozone concentrations in New England have decreased 20 percent since 1980.
EPA has taken a number of steps to further reduce air pollution. New cars, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans will be 77 to 95 percent cleaner by 2009 as a result of EPA emission standards for new vehicles. The program will also result in cleaner-burning gasoline that contains 90 percent less sulfur. The requirements are phased in, and started in 2004. In addition, EPA’s clean diesel trucks and buses program will reduce the level of sulfur in highway diesel fuel by 97 percent starting in 2006, and will reduce NOx emissions from new trucks and buses by over 90 percent.
Also, this March, EPA finalized the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) to help reduce the transport of air pollution from power plans across state boundaries. When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce power plant NOx emissions by over 60 percent and sulfur dioxide by over 70 percent.
Finally, additional improvements in air quality are expected as states implement plans to meet the 8-hour ozone standard. Last year, EPA formally designated areas that are not complying with the 8-hour ozone standard. All of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, as well as parts of New Hampshire and Maine, are out of compliance. States with these nonattainment areas must submit plans by mid 2007 that will outline how they will meet the standard by the end of 2009. A map showing the 8-hour ozone nonattainment areas in New England is available at https://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/nattainm.html.
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