Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


Poor Air Quality Predicted in Several New England Areas for Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Release Date: 06/08/04
Contact Information: Contact: Andrew Spejewski (617-918-1014)

For Immediate Release: June 8, 2004 Release #04-06-07

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is predicting unhealthy air quality for Wednesday, June 9, 2004, with unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone predicted for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands. Elevated levels of fine particles are also expected throughout New England for tomorrow, with the highest concentrations occurring in the urban centers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and throughout Connecticut. Tomorrow's forecast of hot weather is also expected to cause the demand for electricity in New England to reach high load levels.

Air quality should improve on Thursday after a cold front moves through the area.

"It is unfortunate that warm weather means unhealthy air quality for New England," said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA's New England office. "When smog levels are up, residents should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity."

Ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog, is unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.08 parts per million over an eight-hour period. So far this year, there have been 3 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. Concentrations are also expected to exceed this level today in south coastal areas of New England. (A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded so far this summer can be found at

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. Exposure to elevated particulate levels can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravate heart or lung disease, and cause premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly.

When smog levels are up, residents should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems. In addition, when particulate concentrations in the ambient air are elevated, people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged exertion.

Ground-level ozone (smog) forms 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. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone smog.

Major sources of particulate pollution are factories, power plants, trash incinerators, motor vehicles, construction activity, and fires.

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;
    • avoid using gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
Additionally, due to tomorrow's forecast of hot weather, the demand for electricity in New England is forecast to reach high load levels. Given the ozone and high load forecasts, EPA is asking homeowners and employers to make a special effort to reduce their electricity consumption. EPA asks employers to consider asking their employees to dress casually and turn their air conditioning to a higher temperature setting and turn off any unnecessary lights and computers when not in use. Homeowners also are urged to turn their air conditioner to a higher temperature setting, turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, such as televisions, computers, or lights during the day, and to defer household activities like laundry until later hours.

In order to help New England residents prepare for poor air quality this summer, EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts. The real-time air quality data and forecasts are available at New at this web site this year is an interactive tool that allows individuals to access the most recent air quality index reading for ozone monitors in their area.

People can also sign up at this web address to receive air quality alerts from EPA's New England office. The alert program is a free service provided by EPA in conjunction with the New England states which automatically notifies you by e-mail or fax when poor air quality is predicted in your area.

Related Information:
Sign up for Air Quality

Air Quality Index
Air Quality Web Site