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Poor Air Quality Expected for Southern New England on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

08/28/2018
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1017

BOSTON – New England state air quality forecasters are predicting air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups, due to ground-level ozone.  The areas that are predicted to exceed the Federal air quality standard for ozone on Wednesday are coastal and central Connecticut (south of I-84 including southern Hartford County), eastern and south-central Massachusetts (including Greater Boston, Worcester, and Springfield), the entire coastline of Maine, and the entire State of Rhode Island.

With hot, summery weather, 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 during peak electrical use hours.

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 create 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.

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.

When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, members of the public are encouraged to help limit emissions and reduce ozone by:

  • using public transportation if possible;
  • combining errands and car-pooling to reduce driving time and mileage;
  • using less electricity by turning air conditioning to a higher temperature setting; turning off lights, TVs and computers when they are not being used; and
  • avoiding using small gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.

The current ozone standard is 0.070 parts per million (ppm). So far this year, there have been 22 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard (an exceedance).

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