News Alert: Unhealthy air quality forecast for today

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is forecasting unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” Tuesday, July 28 and Wednesday July 29, due to predicted elevated ground-level ozone pollution for southern sections of Fairfield and New Haven Counties on Tuesday, and all of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New LondonCounties on Wednesday.

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 and the elderly.

“Forecasters are predicting the hottest weather of the summer yet, so everyone should take simple precautions when high temperatures combined with poor air quality is expected,” said Commissioner Rob Klee.  “If you are outside at work or at play, be sure to drink plenty of water and get to an air conditioned room if you need to cool down and catch your breath.”

Health Effects of Air Pollution

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. Anyone can be affected by ozone; particularly sensitive groups that include children, elderly, people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, and even healthy adults who are very active outdoors.

Ground level or "bad" ozone primarily occurs during very 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 ground level ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These two air pollutants pose serious health risks – especially to young children, elderly, adults who are active outdoors, and people with existing respiratory disease.

Weather Summary

A light southwesterly flow of very warm humid air will dominate our weather over the next few days. Ample sunshine on both Tuesday and Wednesday with light southwesterly winds will transport elevated levels of ozone from upwind air pollution sources into Connecticut.  In addition to transported air pollution, our “home grown” pollution will be intensified by the combination of strong July sunlight and temperatures in the low 90’s.  These conditions are expected to persist through Wednesday.  An approaching cool front will reach the state lateThursday bringing some clouds into the region which will reduce high concentrations of ground level ozone on Thursday.

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;

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

    • Telecommuting if possible;

    • Refueling your vehicle after dusk and never idling a vehicle unnecessarily;

We also need long term actions to get to the root of our air pollution problem in the United States. DEEP recommends you also consider these long term energy reducing strategies:

  • Make your home or business as energy efficient as possible – this drives down air pollution and puts money back in your pocket;

  • Cars and trucks cause over half our air pollution, so consider driving an electric vehicle; and

  • Consider investing in renewable energy like solar electric.

Ozone Monitoring Season

DEEP monitors, tracks and forecasts daily air quality levels across Connecticut for ozone from May 1 through September 30 each year and for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) each day of the year. On April 30, 2015, DEEP began informing Connecticut’s regulated community and the general public of the ozone season via the State of Connecticut E-mail list serve and posting air quality forecasts on the DEEP web page, available here.

DEEP encourages daycare providers, summer camps and elder/senior centers to subscribe to the AQI.  Subscribing to the AQI is fast and easy and will provide you with important information each day about Connecticut’s air quality through the spring and summer.  The AQI link provides facts and information regarding ground-level ozone, its’ health effects, what today on high ozone day, and most importantly what you can do to help reduce ground level ozone in your backyard.