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Poor Air Quality Predicted for Connecticut, Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts on Friday, August 3

Release Date: 08/02/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality for Friday, Aug. 3, throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Southeastern Massachusetts. Hot weather forecast for tomorrow is also expected to increase the demand for electricity in New England to reach peak load levels.

This forecast follows unhealthy air quality recorded yesterday in coastal Connecticut and predicted today, Aug. 2, throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts and coastal areas of New Hampshire and Maine. On Saturday, air quality is expected to improve with the passage of a cold front through the region.

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 summer, not including today, there have been 21 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. The number of unhealthy days in each state so far this year as compared to the number of unhealthy days during all of last summer are as follows: 16 days in Connecticut (13 in 2000); 18 days in Massachusetts (5 in 2000); 11 days in Rhode Island ( 8 in 2000); 11 days in Maine (3 in 2000); 8 days in New Hampshire (1 in 2000); and 2 days in Vermont (1 in 2000). 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 threatens the public health," said Ira Leighton, EPA New England's acting regional administrator. "We have progressed in our battle against smog in New England, but we continue to see many days when the air is unhealthful. On those days, EPA and the medical community suggest residents refrain from strenuous outdoor activity."

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 addition, because of tomorrow's hot weather will most likely increase the demand for electricity in New England to peak load levels, 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.

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.