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Poor Air Quality Predicted in Much of New England for the Weekend

Release Date: 06/24/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017,

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2005; Release # dd050604

BOSTON – Unhealthy air quality is predicted for Sat. June 25 in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, southern New Hampshire, southern Vermont and coastal Maine, where unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone will likely occur. Additionally, moderate levels of fine particles are expected in throughout these areas on Saturday. As a cold front is expected from the north on Sunday, air quality is expected to improve in the Northern region, but remain unhealthy in southern New England. Tomorrow’s forecast of hot weather is also expected to cause the demand for electricity in New England to reach high load levels.

“We are expecting air quality to be unhealthy in much of New England this weekend,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their 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 6 days when ozone monitors in New England have recorded concentrations above this level. (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 elevated, people 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 ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take ozone action. The public can help reduce ozone-smog by:

    • Using public transportation, car pooling and/or combining trips;
    • Refueling cars 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;
    • Avoiding the use of 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.

Employers can help reduce energy demand by:
    • Asking their employees to dress casually so that air conditioning can be set to a higher temperature setting;
    • Turning off unnecessary lights and computers when not in use.
Homeowners can help reduce energy demand by:
    • Turning air conditioners to a higher temperature setting;
    • Turning off unnecessary lights and appliances, such as televisions, computers or lights during the day;
    • Deferring 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 .

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