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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Southern New England for Friday, Aug. 3, 2007

Release Date: 08/02/2007
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1100

(Boston, Mass. – August 2, 2007) – Unhealthy ozone air quality is predicted in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts (except on the south coast, Cape Cod, and the Islands), and in coastal areas of New Hampshire and Maine for Friday, August 3, 2007. In addition, fine particle levels are expected to be elevated across New England, with the highest concentrations expected in urban coastal areas of Connecticut. The forecast for hot weather tomorrow is also expected to cause the demand for electricity in New England to reach high load levels.

Poor air quality should end with a cold front late Friday.

“We are expecting an unhealthy air quality day on Friday,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less, by using public transportation and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher."

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 16 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, in southwestern Connecticut. (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 (soot) 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, 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. 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 http://cfpub.epa.gov/airnow/index.cfm?action=airnow.enviroflash to receive air quality alerts from EPA. 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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