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News Releases from Region 01

Poor Air Quality Expected for much of Southern New England on Wednesday

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

Boston, Mass. – Poor air quality, due to ground-level ozone, is expected for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and eastern Massachusetts, including the Boston Metro area, on Wednesday, July 6. A map of these areas can be found at: https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/forecast.html. The poorest air quality in this area usually occurs from 11 am to 11 pm. Unhealthy air quality is expected to continue into Thursday.

"With the onset of warmer weather, we are expecting unhealthy air quality for both Wednesday and Thursday in much of New England," said Curt Spalding, Administrator of EPA's New England office. "On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity."

On October 1, 2015, EPA strengthened the ozone standard to a more protective level of 0.070 parts per million (ppm). This level is chosen, because it is requisite to protect public health. The older standard did not provide the same level of health protection. So far this year, there have been 12 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard (an exceedance). (A preliminary list of this summer's ozone exceedances can be found at https://www3.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 https://www.airnow.gov/