DEEP predicts unhealthy air quality through Saturday

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is forecasting unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” from Wednesday, May 25 through Saturday, May 28 due to predicted elevated ground-level ozone pollution for Southern Fairfield, Southern New Haven, Southern Middlesex and Southern New London counties.

These areas are expected to experience unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups.”

“As Connecticut prepares for Memorial Day weekend and temperatures begin to warm up this week, we are expecting air quality that could impact our most susceptible residents, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory disease such as asthma,” said Commissioner Rob Klee.

Multi-day air quality alerts have been rare in recent years. However, in October 2015 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the national air quality standard for ground level ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion, according to the DEEP.

Ground level or "bad" ozone primarily occurs during warm summer days. Strong sunshine causes chemical reactions of air pollutants emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industry and household activities, forming ozone. Warmer weather can bring high levels of  (O3) and fine particulate matter (). These two air pollutants pose serious health risks – especially to young children, the elderly, adults who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory disease.

Unhealthy concentrations of ground level ozone can cause or make worse a variety of respiratory and other health problems including breathing difficulty, coughing, and throat irritation and worsen asthma episodes.
Weather Summary
Low pressure, currently located off the New England Coast today, will move out to sea on Wednesday as a high pressure ridge builds to the west. Temperatures are expected to rise into the upper 80s on Wednesday on westerly winds and full sunshine. Along the coast, winds will turn southwest, which will transport elevated levels of ozone from upwind air pollution sources into coastal Connecticut.  If a weak back-door cold front stalls just north of the area on Friday and Saturday, elevated levels of ground level ozone will persist through Saturday, when a maritime high pressure center is expected to usher in cooler and cleaner ocean air.
What You Can Do to Help
When air pollution levels are predicted to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups” DEEP recommends:

·         Conserving electricity by setting air conditioners to 78o;

·         “Wait ‘til 8” to use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers;

·         Refueling your lawn mower and cutting the grass before noon;

·         Driving less by carpooling, vanpooling or using public transit;

·         Telecommuting if possible; and

·         Refueling your vehicle after dusk and never idling a vehicle unnecessarily.