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News Releases from Region 01

Poor Air Quality Expected for Parts of New England on Thursday

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

BOSTON – New England state air quality forecasters are predicting air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups, due to ground-level ozone, along coastal New England north of Boston, for Thursday, August 11. The areas that are predicted to exceed the Federal air quality standard for ozone on Thursday are:

Essex County, Massachusetts; Rockingham County, New Hampshire; and coastal Maine from Kittery up to Acadia National Park.

"With the continued hot, summery weather we are experiencing, our forecasters predict that parts of coastal New England, north of Boston, will likely have unhealthy air quality tomorrow," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity when poor air quality is expected. On these days, people can also help reduce emissions by choosing to carpool, use public transportation, and limit the use of electricity when possible."

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 which creates 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.

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.

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 24 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard.

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