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News Releases from Region 01

Poor Air Quality Expected for Much of New England Today and Saturday

Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (bender.emily@epa.gov)

BOSTON - Our New England state air quality forecasters are predicting air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups, due to ground-level ozone, in much of southern New England for Friday. The areas that are predicted to exceed EPA’s air quality standard for ozone on Friday are: Connecticut, northern Rhode Island, and much of interior Massachusetts. This level of ozone pollution is expected to continue into Saturday for these same areas and expand into northeastern Massachusetts (including Boston and the North Shore), coastal and mountaintop areas above 3000 feet in New Hampshire, and coastal Maine from Kittery to Acadia National Park. The ozone forecast map can be found at: www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/forecast.html

"We are expecting continued unhealthy air quality into Saturday," said Curt Spalding, Administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity during unhealthy air quality days."

On October 1, 2015, EPA strengthened the ozone standard to a more protective level of 0.070 parts per million (ppm). So far this year, there have been 4 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard. A preliminary list of this summer's ozone exceedances can be found at www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-16.html)

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 sunshine. Cars, trucks and buses give off the majority of the pollution create ozone. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and some cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add to the ozone problem.

When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, EPA asks the public to take action. The public can help reduce ozone by:

  • use public transportation or walk whenever possible;
  • combine errands and car-pool to reduce driving time and mileage;
  • use less electricity by turning air conditioning to a higher temperature setting, and turning off lights, TVs and computers when they are not being used; and
  • avoid using small gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.

EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts at https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/forecast.html. 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 www.airnow.gov.