(Boston, Mass. – July 21, 2011) – As high heat continues in the Northeast, unhealthy air quality is predicted tomorrow for coastal Connecticut, southern Rhode Island, and southern coastal Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands, due to ground-level ozone.
“When there is unhealthy air quality due to high levels of smog, EPA and the medical community suggest that people should limit their strenuous outdoor activity,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “On these days, everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less, by using public transportation and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher.”
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. When smog levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems.
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 power plants, particularly on hot days, emits 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.
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 reduce gasoline vapors getting into the air during the daytime when the sun can cook the vapors and form ozone;
- Avoiding the use of small gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, and leaf blowers.
- More information:
- So far this year, there have been 12 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the health standards. (A preliminary list of this summer’s unhealthy readings can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-11.html)
- EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts at www.epa.gov/ne/aqi People can also sign up at this web site to receive free air quality alerts by e-mail when poor air quality is predicted in their area.