June 21, 2012
DEEP Extends Forecast of Unhealthy Air Quality to Friday
for Parts of Coastal Connecticut
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has extended its air quality alert to tomorrow – Friday, June 22 – for the south central and southeastern coast of Connecticut (from New Haven east to Groton-New London).
DEEP originally issued an air quality alert of unhealthy air quality on June 19 for “sensitive groups” in anticipation of high ozone levels on June 20 and 21 in Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties.. DEEP is now extending this forecast to Friday, June 22 for the south central and southeastern coast of Connecticut due to weather patterns that will maintain elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution. Clouds and showers are forecast to enter inland Connecticut late in the afternoon thus dispersing the ozone. South central and south eastern coastal Connecticut will be the last to receive the clouds and showers so the ozone levels may still exceed the standard in that area.
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 that has been centered to our south during the last several days, has slowly drifted off southeast coast of the United States, will continue to allow for a combination of sunny skies, hot temperatures and southwest surface winds to persist over parts of the Connecticut coast on Friday. This combination of heat and surface winds will produce favorable conditions for ozone formation and transport of elevated levels of ozone into south central and south eastern Connecticut from the mid-west and Long Island Sound.
Inland areas that experienced moderate levels of ozone during the last two days, will continue to experience moderate levels of ozone as a cold front will move into the area with clouds and showers, during the afternoon hours. Along the coast however, the combination of prolonged sunshine and surface winds switching to the southwest, will transport more upwind ozone and precursors along south central and southeastern coast of Connecticut. The cold front will clear all of Connecticut by early Saturday morning, thus a cooler, dryer and cleaner airmass will replace steamy hot air and ozone levels will become GOOD for all Connecticut.
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.