High Ozone Levels Will Mean Poor Air Quality for Southern New England on Tues. July 17, 2012
Release Date: 07/16/2012
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
(Boston, Mass. – July 16, 2012) – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for the southern portions of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the south coast of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands, on Tuesday due to ground-level ozone.
“As this hazy, hot and humid weather continues, we predict air quality to reach unhealthy levels in parts of New England,” said Curt Spalding, Administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Everybody can help reduce ozone by driving less, using public transportation and setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher.”
Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. When ozone levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems.
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunlight. Cars, trucks and buses give off the majority of the pollution create ozone. Fossil fuel burning at electric generating units, particularly on hot days, also emits ozone precursors. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone problem.
When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take action. The public can help reduce ozone by:
- Using public transportation, car pooling and/or combining trips;
- Avoiding the use of small gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers and tractors, chain saws, power washers, string trimmers and leaf blowers.
The ozone standard is 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. So far this year, there have been 16 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard. (A preliminary list of this summer’s unhealthy readings can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-12.html)
EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts at www.epa.gov/ne/aqi. This website can also be used to sign up to receive free air quality alerts by e-mail when poor air quality is predicted for a particular area. National real-time air quality data from AirNow is also available on smart phones with free iPhone and Android apps, available for download at http://www.airnow.gov/.
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