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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Western Mass. and Coastal Maine for Friday, July 27

Release Date: 07/26/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. –July 26, 2007) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for western Massachusetts and coastal Maine, for Friday, July 27. The forecast for hot weather tomorrow is also expected to cause the demand for electricity in New England to reach high load levels.

“We are expecting Friday to be another unhealthy air quality day 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.”

Due to tomorrow’s forecast of hot weather, the demand for electricity in New England is forecast to reach high load levels. Given the ozone and high load forecasts, 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.

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 year, there have been 15 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. We also expect ozone levels to exceed the health standard today, Thursday. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy air readings recorded so far this summer is available (epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-07.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. Exposure to elevated particulate levels can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravate heart or lung disease, and cause premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly.

When smog levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems. In addition, when particulate concentrations in the ambient air are elevated, people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged exertion.

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 power plants, 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. Major sources of particulate pollution are factories, power plants, trash incinerators, motor vehicles, construction activity, and fires.

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 cut down on gasoline vapors getting into the air during day light hours when the sun can cook the vapors and form ozone;

- Avoiding the use of gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.

In order to help New England residents prepare for poor air quality this summer, EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts (epa.gov/ne/aqi).

People can also sign up to receive air quality alerts from EPA (http://cfpub.epa.gov/airnow/index.cfm?action=airnow.enviroflash). The Enviroflash program is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail when poor air quality is predicted in your area.


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