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Unhealthy Air Quality Predicted for Tuesday in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Release Date: 07/17/2006
Contact Information: Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – Elevated levels of ground-level ozone are predicted for Tuesday, July 18, in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. – the first unhealthy Code Red day this summer.

The leading pollutant will be ozone with concentrations peaking in the late afternoon hours in the Code Red (unhealthy) range. Active children and adults and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. Everyone else, especially children, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoor.

Ground-level ozone (smog) forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen interact in the presence of sunlight. Trucks, cars, and buses give off the majority of the pollution that makes smog. Burning fossil fuel at electric powerplants, particularly on hot days, contributes to smog-making pollution. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also contribute significantly to 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:

1. Using public transportation, car pooling and/or combining trips

      2. Refueling cars at night to cut down on gasoline vapors getting into the air during daylight hours when the sun can cook the vapors and form smog.
      3. Avoiding the use of gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
      4. Setting air conditioning thermostats a few degrees higher to help reduce electrical demand throughout the region.

Due to the forecast of hot weather, the demand for electricity in the mid-Atlantic region is forecast to reach high load levels. Given this forecast, EPA is asking homeowners and employers to make a special effort to reduce their electricity consumption. Employers may consider asking employees to dress casually and turn their air conditioning to a higher temperature setting. Businesses and homeowners can help by turning off unnecessary lights, computers and appliances when not in use.

For more information on air quality forecasts, go to http://airnow.gov/.

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