High Levels of Ozone May Continue Through the Weekend
July 22, 2022
BOSTON (July 22, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New England state air quality forecasters are predicting air quality that is “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” due to elevated levels of ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as “smog.”
The areas that are forecasted to exceed the Federal air quality standard for ozone on Friday, July 22, include Coastal Connecticut and the south coast of Rhode Island.
These locations are subject to change, so please refer to EPA New England’s webpage for current air quality conditions and forecasts across New England With higher temperatures and sunny skies forecasted, poor air quality is expected to continue into the weekend.
“We’re experiencing a significant heatwave, and heat combined with pollution results in unhealthy air quality throughout New England. Elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe, we’re seeing even more dramatic examples of extreme heat and unhealthy conditions from wildfires,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “These kinds of extreme heat events are exactly what scientists predicted would happen as we careen into a climate crisis. And who is most impacted by unhealthy air quality events? Those already overburdened by environmental injustices – those already disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and pollution. As President Biden said when he was in Massachusetts this week, we ‘have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger. And that’s what climate change is about. It is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger.’ Just ask someone experiencing an asthma attack today.”
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunshine. Cars, trucks, buses, and other large combustion sources emit most of the pollution that creates ozone. Emissions from gasoline stations, print shops, household products, like paints and some cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add to the ozone formation.
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, EPA and the medical community advise that people limit any strenuous outdoor activity. This recommendation is especially important for sensitive groups, including people with lung disease such as asthma, older adults, children and teenagers, and people who are active outdoors.
When ozone is forecast to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” members of the public are encouraged to help limit emissions and reduce ozone formation by:
- using public transportation, if possible;
- combining errands and carpooling to reduce driving time and mileage; and
- avoiding the use of small gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors, and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
During poor air quality events, it is also important to reduce household energy usage, such as setting air conditioners to a higher temperature, turning off unnecessary lights, equipment, and appliances. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Residential Program also provides trusted guidance and online tools to help homeowners make smart decisions about improving the energy efficiency of their existing homes.
The current ozone standard is 0.070 parts per million (ppm). So far this year, there have been 11 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard.
Preliminary list of this summer’s ozone exceedances https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-22.html
Real-time ozone data and air quality forecasts https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/aqi.html
National real-time air quality data (free iPhone and Android apps) https://www.airnow.gov/
Air Quality Alerts http://www.enviroflash.info/
EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program https://www.energystar.gov/
# # #