Stagnant Air, Emissions Contribute to Poor Air Quality in New England
Much of New England is experiencing poor air quality that is expected to continue for another day or two.
USEPA reports that unhealthy air quality, due to ground-level ozone, is expected for most of Conn., R.I., central and southern Mass. (including Springfield, Worcester, Cape Cod and the Islands), coastal N.H. and most of coastal Maine for Friday, May 31, 2013. Elevated smog levels are expected to continue through Saturday.
"We expect Friday to be another unhealthy air quality day in many parts of southern and coastal New England," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "On these days, EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity. Further, everybody can help reduce smog-forming emissions by driving less and by setting air conditioner thermostats a few degrees higher."
The ozone standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level.
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.
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunlight. Cars, trucks and buses give off the majority of the pollution create ozone. Gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add significantly to the ozone problem.
When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy, the public can take action to reduce emissions that cause high smog levels. People can help reduce ozone by taking simple steps including using public transportation, car pooling and/or combining trips; and avoiding the use of small gasoline powered engines, such as lawn mowers and tractors, chain saws, power washers, string trimmers and leaf blowers.
Image of haze in Boston via http://www.hazecam.net/camsite.aspx?site=boston