DEEP predicts unhealthy air quality for Saturday

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is forecasting unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” on Saturday, July 7, due to elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution for most of Connecticut except for Litchfield County.

A forecast of “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” indicates increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms and breathing discomfort in active children and adults with respiratory disease, such as asthma.

Ground level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC.

A large dome of high pressure centered across the mid-section of nation causing record breaking heat will move over Connecticut with a combination of sunny skies, hot temperatures and west to southwest surface winds on Saturday. This combination of heat and surface winds will produce favorable conditions for ozone formation and transport of elevated levels of ozone into Connecticut from the mid-west and mid-Atlantic regions, including Long Island Sound.

Anyone can be affected by ozone, but groups particularly sensitive include children and adults who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma. Sensitive people who experience effects at lower ozone concentrations are likely to experience more serious effects at higher concentrations.

Connecticut experienced fourteen unhealthy air quality days during 2011. With the early onset of warmer temperatures this year, Connecticut experienced its first unhealthy air day on April 15. When air pollution levels are predicted to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups” DEEP recommends:

Conserve electricity by setting air conditioners to 78 degrees.

Wait ‘til 8 to use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers.

Drive less by carpooling, vanpooling or using public transit.

Telecommute if possible.

Refuel your vehicle after dusk and never idling a vehicle unnecessarily.

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