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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Most of New England for this Weekend

Release Date: 06/06/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017


(Boston, Mass. – June 6, 2008) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted on both Saturday and Sunday for all of Connecticut, all of Massachusetts, all of Rhode Island, Southern Vermont, Southern New Hampshire, and Southwestern and Mid-Coastal Maine, due to ground-level ozone. Poor air quality may continue into Monday.

“We are expecting both Saturday and Sunday to be unhealthy air quality days in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA’s New England office. “On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity.”

This summer, New Englanders can expect an increase in the number of air quality alert days, resulting from EPA’s recent lowering of the level of the ground-level ozone air quality health standard. The new ozone standard is set at 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts will be issued when ozone concentrations are expected to exceed this new standard. EPA previously issued air quality alerts when 8-hour average ozone levels were at, or predicted to be at, 0.085 ppm or above. So far this year, there have been five days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the new ozone standard. (A preliminary list of this summer’s unhealthy readings can be found at
http://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-08.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, emit 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
http://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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