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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Portions of New England for Friday, May 25 +++ Elevated Ozone in portions of CT / RI / MA; and Elevated PM in VT and ME

Release Date: 05/24/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – May 24, 2007) – A combined air quality and weather forecast for Friday, May 25 predicts unhealthy ozone air quality in coastal portions of Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts, including the Cape and the Islands. In addition, unhealthy levels of particle pollution are expected for extreme southern Vermont, with elevated particle levels extending into southern Maine.

“We are expecting Friday to be an 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.”

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 1 day when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded so far this summer can be found at http://www.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 powerplants, particularly on hot days, give off a lot of 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 air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take air quality 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, 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 and particle pollution data and air quality forecasts. The real-time air quality data and forecasts are available at http://www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/index.html .

People can also sign up at this web address to receive air quality alerts from EPA’s New England office. The alert program is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail or fax when poor air quality is predicted in your area.

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