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Release Date: 08/07/1998
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617) 918-4154

BOSTON -- The New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency expects the unhealthy air quality of the past few days to continue into the weekend with elevated levels of ground-level ozone expected on Saturday in western Connecticut and on Sunday in Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and the New Hampshire and Maine seacoast.

Air quality is considered to be unhealthy when it exceeds EPA's new and more-stringent standard of .08 parts per million averaged over an eight-hour period. New England has exceeded this standard 20 days this spring and summer.

Ground-level ozone is a respiratory irritant that causes health problems by damaging lung tissue and reducing lung function. Exposure to ground-level ozone causes coughing, headaches, nausea, and may cause premature aging of the lung. Poor air quality can affect everyone, but groups that are particularly sensitive to ozone include children who are active outdoors, outdoor workers, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma. The New England Office of EPA recommends that sensitive individuals limit outdoor activities and refrain from strenuous exercise on days when air quality is predicted to be unhealthy.

In an effort to better inform New Englanders about "real-time" ozone levels, the EPA has expanded its computerized ozone mapping system, which shows real-time images of ground-level ozone levels throughout the Midwest and Northeast. The color ozone map is available on the EPA's Wide Web information page on ozone and air pollution at

Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen interact in the presence of sunlight. Sources which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone include: automobiles, trucks and buses; large industry and combustion sources such as electric utilities; small industry such as gasoline dispensing facilities and print shops; consumer products such as paints and cleaners; and off-road engines such as aircraft, locomotives, construction equipment and lawn and garden equipment.

The Clean Air Act requires that all New England states plan for further control of sources of ozone-causing pollutants. Many controls on automobiles, industrial and smaller facilities such as gasoline service stations are currently being implemented. Additional controls could include improved automobile inspection programs, such as the program recently started in the State of Connecticut, as well as controls on fossil fuel-fired power plants and industrial boilers.

New England citizens can help prevent bad air quality days through a variety of activities:

    • Since exhaust from automobiles is a major contributor to ground-level ozone, use public transportation, bike or walk where possible;
    • When it's imperative to drive, car pool and plan trips carefully to avoid excess driving;
    • Refuel your vehicle at night to reduce the escape of gasoline vapors during the hottest times of the day;
    • Keep your vehicle well maintained;
    • Fossil-fuel fired electricity generation stations emit large quantities of air pollutants which form smog. So, using less electricity helps reduce smog.
    • Avoiding the use of gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers on predicted unhealthy air days.