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With Hot Weather, Elevated Smog Predicted in Parts of New England for Saturday, June 19, 2010

Release Date: 06/18/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – June 18, 2010) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for northwestern Connecticut and western Massachusetts due to ground-level ozone on Saturday June 19, 2010. Air quality is forecast to improve on Sunday.

“We are expecting that on Saturday, some parts of New England will experience unhealthy air quality,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “When we have elevated levels of smog, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit strenuous outdoor activity.”

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. Burning fossil fuels at electric power plants, particularly on hot days, emits 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.

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.

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.

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. 

More Information:

So far this year, there have been four 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).

EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts (www.epa.gov/region1/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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