Weather alert: Oppressive temps, poor air quality
Poor air quality due to ground-level ozone is expected on Tuesday for the coastal part of Connecticut and the rest of New England, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We predict that Tuesday will be an unhealthy air quality day in parts of New England,” said Curt Spalding, administrator of EPA’s New England office. “On these hot, humid and smoggy days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity.”
The ozone standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an eight-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level.
So far this year, there have been seven days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard. (A preliminary list of this summer’s unhealthy readings can be found at www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-13.html)
Can cause breathing problems
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, according to an EPA release.
When ozone levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems.
Vehicles cause the most pollution
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunlight. Electrical generating stations, cars, trucks and buses give off the majority of the pollution which creates ozone.
Gasoline stations, print shops, household products such as paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone problem.
How to reduce ozone problems
When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, EPA asks the public to take action. The public can help reduce ozone by:
— Reducing electrical 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; and deferring household activities like laundry until later hours.
— Using public transportation, car pooling, or combining trips.
— Avoiding the use of small gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers and tractors, chain saws, power washers, string trimmers and leaf blowers.
How to get more information
The EPA and the New England states provide real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts at www.epa.gov/ne/aqi. This website also can be used to sign up to receive free air quality alerts by email when poor air quality is predicted for a particular area.
National real-time air quality data from AirNow also is available on smartphones with free iPhone and Android apps, available for download at www.airnow.gov/.