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Release Date: 08/16/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality, with elevated levels of ground-level ozone for Tuesday, Aug. 17, in parts of Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts.

EPA-New England is predicting unhealthy air quality in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex and New Haven counties in Connecticut and in Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, including the Cape Cod and the Islands.

Ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog, is unhealthy when average concentrations exceed .08 parts per million over an eight-hour period. So far this summer, there have been 31 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. Last summer, by comparison, there were a total of 28 days when ozone monitors in New England recorded concentrations above this level, with seven of those days coming in late August and September.

Poor air quality affects everyone, but some people are particularly sensitive to ozone, including children and adults who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma.

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. The most common systems of ozone exposure are coughing, pain when taking a deep breath, and for people with respiratory disease, shortness of breath.

When elevated ozone levels are expected, EPA recommends that people limit strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest.

"Ground-level ozone smog threatens the public health," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "We have progressed in our battle against smog in New England, but we continue to see many days when the air is unhealthful. On those days, EPA and the medical community suggest residents refrain from strenuous outdoor activity."

Ground-level ozone (smog) is formed 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. Fossil fuel burning at electric powerplants, particularly on hot days, give off a lot of smog-making pollution. Gas stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone smog.

When air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take ozone action. You or your employer can help get rid of ozone-smog by limiting the things you do that make air pollution. For instance:

    • use public transportation, or walk whenever possible;
    • if you must drive, car pool and combine trips;
    • go to the gas station at night to cut down on gasoline vapors getting into the air during day light hours when the sun can cook the vapors and form ozone;
    • use less electricity - turn air conditioning to a higher temperature, turn out lights and computer screens when you're not using them;
    • avoid using gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
In an effort to better inform New Englanders about "real-time" ozone levels, the EPA maintains an ozone mapping system, which shows real-time images and daily forecasts of ground-level ozone levels. The daily ozone forecast is available on the EPA's Wide Web air pollution information page at

Citizens can also sign up at this web address to receive smog alerts from EPA's New England office. Smog Alert is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail or fax when high concentrations of ground-level ozone are predicted in your area. Smog Alerts are issued to notify interested persons of predicted poor air quality in specific geographical areas of New England throughout the summer smog season, May through September.