June 19, 2012
Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Forecasts Unhealthy Air Quality for Coastal Connecticut Counties on Wednesday June 20 and Thursday June 21
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) forecasts unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” on Wednesday, June 20 and Thursday, June 21 due to elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution for Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties.
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.
High pressure centered to our south will allow for a combination of sunny skies, hot temperatures and west to northwest surface winds to persist over Connecticut Wednesday and Thursday. This combination of heat and surface winds will produce favorable conditions for ozone formation and transport of elevated levels of ozone into coastal Connecticut from Long Island Sound.
Inland areas will likely experience good to moderate levels of ozone as the surface winds will transport less upwind ozone and precursors. A forecast of “moderate” air quality levels indicates that unusually sensitive individuals may experience respiratory symptoms.
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.
What You Can Do to Help:
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:
- 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;
DEEP monitors, tracks and forecasts daily air quality levels across Connecticut for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) each day of the year, and for ozone from May 1 through September 30 each year. As of April 30, 2012, DEEP began informing Connecticut’s regulated community and the general public of the upcoming ozone season via the State of Connecticut E-mail list serve and posting air quality forecasts on the DEEP web page, available here