TUESDAY: Air quality may be ‘unhealthy’ for sensitive groups today

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is forecasting that the air may be unhealthy for sensitive groups in many parts of Connecticut on Tuesday. This includes much of Fairfield County, including nearby Stratford and Bridgeport.

“This air warning marks the official kick-off to ozone season here in Connecticut,” according to Jeff Seyler, CEO of American Lung Association of the Northeast.

“With this news thousands of people across the region with asthma and other lung diseases will be forced to go indoors, limit their exercise, and make other restrictions to their daily routines,” Seyler said. “No one should have to live this way.

‘High ozone levels affect all of us’

Ozone has been compared to getting a ‘sunburn’ on the lungs. It causes shortness of breath, inflammation of the lungs and airways, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, and an increased need for medical treatment and hospital admission for people with lung and heart disease.

“Make no mistake, high ozone levels affect all of us,” Seyler said. “It impacts our health and it drives up health costs for everyone.”

Wants tougher standards

And Seyler said current EPA standards are far weaker than the scientific data supports, meaning people are not being alerted to all unhealthy air days.

“Recently the EPA’s independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy confirming that the current national air quality standard for ozone fails to protect public health as required by law and that it should be significantly strengthened to more adequately reflect current science,” he said.

Seyler said the Lung Association wants the EPA to heed the advice of these independent scientists by updating the federal ozone standard to 60 ppb in order to protect the public from dangerous and potentially deadly ozone pollution.

‘We are being barraged by pollution’

“The reality is, here in Connecticut we are under siege,” he said. “We are being barraged by pollution from outside our borders. This pollution is arriving from the factories, power plants, trucks and cars in the Midwest and south of us.

“New England, more than any other region, needs strong laws at the federal level to reduce the pollution that is rolling into our states without our consent or control,” Seyler continued.