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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Most of New England for Monday, June 19, 2006

Release Date: 06/19/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

06/19/06 -- (Boston, Mass. – June 19, 2006) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted today (Monday, June 19) for Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and coastal Maine, where unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone will likely occur. Additionally, moderate to unhealthy levels of fine particle pollution are expected in throughout these areas today. Elevated levels of fine particulate are also forecast for Rhode Island and Vermont. Air quality conditions are likely to improve once the thundershowers forecast for this afternoon and evening develop.

Yesterday, we saw unhealthy air quality levels in Connecticut, and parts of Massachusetts.

“We are expecting Monday to be another unhealthy air quality day in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Although we have progressed in our battle against air pollution in New England, we continue to see days when the air is unhealthy when we get weather conditions like we’re seeing today. On those days, EPA and the medical community suggest residents limit 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 2 days 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 www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-06.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 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, 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. 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.