The EPA has issued a warning for residents of coastal Connecticut, the entire state of Rhode Island, and south coastal Massachusetts due to excessively “unhealthy air quality” predicted for July 24. For Massachusetts, this includes Cape Cod and the islands. EPA’s New England administrator, Curt Spalding, states that “EPA and the medical community suggest that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity.” Ground-level ozone is expected to exceed healthy limits which prompted the official warning by the EPA. Children and those with respiratory conditions are at the highest risk of damage due to elevated ozone levels.
Medical ConditionsThe EPA has just released information that New England has had 19 days in 2010 wherein ozone has reached unhealthy levels. EPA states that elevated ozone levels may lead to “serious breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection.”
Public Action UrgedThe EPA notes that ground-level ozone is created by the interaction of volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen with sunlight. The majority of this pollution is created by cars, trucks, buses and fossil fuel electric power plants. Other contributors include gasoline stations, prints shops, paints and cleaners, and lawn & garden equipment. The EPA has requested that the public take action by using public transportation, car pooling, refueling cars at night to reduce escaping gasoline vapors coming into contact with sunlight, and avoiding the use of small gasoline engine equipment such as lawn mowers, chain saws, and leaf blowers.
Areas Hit Hardest
Nearly all of the high ozone level days have occurred in July for New England. However, areas of Connecticut such as Cornwall, Danbury, and Middletown had elevated levels of ozone as early as May. Other areas getting hit by high ozone levels in May include Acadia NP (Cadillac Mountain) in Maine, the Ware area in Massachusetts, and Miller State Park in New Hampshire. Vermont has not had a single day of high ozone levels, Massachusetts has had 9 days exceeding healthy limits, and Connecticut tops the list with 17 days reaching hazardous levels to human health. The highest readings of ozone were recorded in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on July 4. For Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard exceeded healthy limits 5 times between June and July followed by Fairhaven at four times and East Milton, Truro, and Ware at two times. Areas of Connecticut exceeding healthy limits several times were Greenwich, Stratford, Westport, Danbury, Madison, and Middletown.