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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Southern and Coastal New England for Wednesday, June 8

Release Date: 06/07/2011
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – June 7, 2011) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for southern coastal Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, the south coast of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands, and coastal New Hampshire on Wednesday due to ground-level ozone. Poor air quality is likely to continue into Thursday.

“We are expecting Wednesday to be an unhealthy air quality day in parts of southern and coastal New England,” said Curt Spalding, Administrator of EPA’s New England office.  “To protect your health, New Englanders should pay close attention to air quality warnings, limit their strenuous outdoor activity on air quality alert days, and help take steps to reduce emissions when air quality is unhealthy.”

In 2008, EPA strengthened the ozone air quality health standard to 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level. On January 6, 2010, EPA proposed to strengthen the ozone standard even further. A final decision is scheduled for the end of July.  So far this year, there has been 1 day in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the 2008 ozone standard. (A preliminary list of this summer’s unhealthy readings can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-11.html)

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.  When smog levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems.

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, emits 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. 

When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take ozone action. The public can help reduce ozone-smog by:

- Using public transportation, car pooling and/or combining trips;

- Refueling cars at night to reduce gasoline vapors getting into the air during the   daytime when the sun can cook the vapors and form ozone;

- Avoiding the use of small gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, and leaf blowers.

EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts at www.epa.gov/ne/aqi ; People can also sign up at this web site to receive free air quality alerts by e-mail when poor air quality is predicted in their area.

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