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Poor Air Quality Predicted for the South Coast of New England for Saturday, July 24, 2010

Release Date: 07/23/2010
Contact Information: Nancy Grantham, (857) 829-8250

(Boston, Mass. – July 23, 2010) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for coastal Connecticut, all of Rhode Island and south coastal Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands, Saturday due to ground-level ozone. A cold frontal passage on Sunday should bring better air quality for the end of the weekend.

“We are expecting Saturday to be another unhealthy air quality day in parts of New England,” said Curt Spalding, Administrator of EPA’s New England office. “On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity.”

In 2008, EPA strengthened the ozone air quality health standard to 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level. In January, EPA proposed to strengthen the ozone standard even further. A final decision is scheduled for August. So far this year, there have been 19 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the new 2008 ozone standard. (A preliminary list of this summer’s unhealthy readings can be found at
http://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-10.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
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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