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New England Experienced Fewer Unhealthy Air Quality Days During Summer Ozone Season

Release Date: 10/21/2013
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 21, 2013) – Matching a long-term trend that air quality is improving, New Englanders experienced a decrease in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared to 2012.

The findings are based on preliminary data collected between April and Sept. 2013. Air quality monitors recorded 20 days when ozone levels in New England exceeded levels considered healthy. In 2012 there were a total of 29 unhealthy ozone days. The trend in unhealthful days over the past 30 years is substantially downward. The downward trend is due to reduction in the emissions that form ozone.

The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer is as follows:

- 17 days in Connecticut (compared to 27 in 2012)
- 7 days in Rhode Island (12 in 2012)
- 6 days in Massachusetts (17 in 2012)
- 5 days in Maine (4 in 2012)
- 3 days in New Hampshire (4 in 2012)
- 0 days in Vermont (0 in 2012)

Although the number of unhealthy days may vary from year to year due to weather conditions, over the long-term, New England has experienced a decreasing number of unhealthy ozone days. In 1983, New England had 113 unhealthy days, compared with 20 this year.

“We can all feel proud - and breathe easier - thanks to the exceptional progress we have made reducing ozone pollution over the past several decades,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “However, the poor air quality days we experienced this summer remind us that our efforts to protect the public’s health by improving air quality must continue. Everybody can save money and protect the environment by taking common-sense steps to conserve energy. By using energy efficient light-bulbs, combining errands with our cars, and/or using public transit, we save energy, save money and cut down on air pollution.”

Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient of smog. Ozone levels are unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.075 parts per million over an 8-hour period. Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles give off the majority of the pollution that makes smog. Fossil fuels burning at electric power plants, which run at high capacities on hot days, emit substantial amounts of smog-making pollution. Gas stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, also contribute to smog formation.
Although the 2013 ozone season is ending, pollution from small particles in the air is a year-round concern.

More information:

The daily air quality index forecast will continue to be available (http://www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/). New Englanders can also sign up at this address to receive air quality alerts. These alerts are issued by e-mail, whenever necessary, to notify program participants when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or small particles are predicted to occur, in their area.

Historical charts of unhealthy air days from 1983 through 2013 for each New England state: www.epa.gov/ne/airquality/standard.html

Preliminary detailed list of 2013 unhealthy air quality data for New England: www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-13.html.

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