DEEP: Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Forecasts Unhealthy Air Quality for parts of Connecticut from Thursday July 18 through Saturday July 20

July 17, 2013

Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Forecasts Unhealthy Air Quality for parts of Connecticut from Thursday July 18 through Saturday July 20

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is forecasting unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” on Thursday, July 18 through Saturday, July 20, due to predicted elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution.  The highest levels of ozone will likely occur across south central and southeastern coastal Connecticut tomorrow, Thursday July 18th.  This area of unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” is forecasted to expand into further inland Connecticut on Friday July 19th and Saturday July 20th. 
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. 
Health Effects:
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.  These sensitive groups who experience effects at lower ozone concentrations are likely to experience more serious effects at higher concentrations; and should avoid strenuous outdoor activities and consider remaining indoors in an air conditioned environment. More detailed information on health effects from high levels of ozone can be found by clicking on the following link:
Ground Level Ozone Formation:
Ground level or "bad" ozone is created when two types of air pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), react in the presence of sunlight and warm temperatures. These air pollutants are generated both inside and outside of Connecticut from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, and gasoline vapors.  Air pollution is also transported into Connecticut on prevailing westerly winds from the Ohio River Valley and from the southwest along the I-95 urban corridor from Washington D.C.
Weather Summary:
High pressure that has been located across the Great Lakes and New York State during the last couple of days has slowly moved off to the south and east of Connecticut.  The clockwise circulation around the high that had caused the wind to be from the northwest, keeping ozone levels low, has switched to west-southwest; and will continue to transport the heat and humidity into Connecticut during the next three days conducive to the formation of very high levels of ozone pollution.  A strong cold front will end the seven (7) day heat wave as it moves across the region late Saturday with a band of showers and thunderstorms.  A wind direction shift back to the northwest will usher in a cooler air mass for Sunday, putting an end to the heat wave and high concentrations of ground level ozone.
What You Can Do to Help:
Connecticut experienced 27 unhealthy air quality days during 2012 and 12 unhealthy air quality days so far this year.  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;
Additional Resources
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.  On April 30, 2013, 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.  There are numerous ways to access the daily AQI forecast and real-time air quality data:
  • Click on the Air Quality Index hyperlink on DEEP’s web page to obtain the current forecasted and real-time air quality levels for ground level ozone and PM2.5. 
  • Go to EPA’s AIRNow web page.
  • A Twitter link is available to follow daily air quality forecasts and alerts that are generated by EPA’s EnviroFlash system, providing the latest air quality information and alerts by e-mail. 
  • To receive daily AQI e-mail alerts, click the EnviroFlash link, allowing you the option to subscribe for a daily AQI e-mail forecast. 
  • Finally, the AQI forecast is available by calling DEEP’s air quality hot-lines at 800.249.1234.