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Poor Air Quality Predicted for New England for Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Release Date: 07/02/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality for Wednesday, July 3, with elevated levels of ground-level ozone predicted for Connecticut, Rhode Island, central and eastern Massachusetts, southeastern New Hampshire, coastal Maine, and Vermont. The highest ozone concentrations are expected along the coast in Connecticut and Rhode Island and in southeastern Massachusetts. There are also elevated levels of fine particulates across southern New England today that are expected to continue throughout the day tomorrow. Tomorrow's forecast of hot weather is also expected to cause the demand for electricity in New England to reach peak load levels.

"It is unfortunate that warm weather brings unhealthy air quality to New England," said Robert W. Varney, EPA New England's regional administrator. "We have progressed in our battle against smog in New England, but we continue to see many days when the air is unhealthy. On those days, EPA and the medical community suggest residents limit strenuous outdoor activity."

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 particulate concentrations in the ambient air are elevated, people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged exertion. In addition, all people should limit strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest.

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.

Outside of the winter, major sources of particulate pollution are factories, power plants, trash incinerators, motor vehicles, construction activity, fires, and natural windblown dust.

When air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take action. You or your employer can help 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 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.

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 11 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

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.