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Elevated Ozone Levels Predicted in Parts of Conn., Mass. and Maine on Wed. July 28, 2010

Release Date: 07/27/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – July 27, 2010) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for interior Connecticut, central Massachusetts, and southern coastal Maine on Wednesday due to high concentrations of ground-level ozone.

“As this hot summer weather continues, we’re expecting another day tomorrow where parts of New England will experience unhealthy air quality. Everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less, by using public transportation and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “When air quality is unhealthy, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity.”

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.

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.)

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 of 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. 

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.

More information: 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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