DPH: Air Pollution

Air Pollution

{Smoke Stacks}

There are many activities that can have adverse effects on the air we breathe.  These activities include driving cars, trucks and buses; burning coal, oil, and wood; and manufacturing chemicals. Air pollution can even come from smaller, everyday activities such as dry cleaning, filling your car with gas, and degreasing and painting operations. These activities add gases and particles to the air we breathe. When these gases and particles accumulate in the air in high enough concentrations, they can harm us and our environment.

Air pollution is a concern for all of us. The average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air every day. Children breathe even more air per pound of body weight and are more susceptible to air pollution. Many air pollutants, such as those that form urban smog and toxic compounds, remain in the environment for long periods of time and are carried by the winds hundreds of miles from their origin. Many people live in areas where urban smog, very small particles, and toxic pollutants pose serious health concerns. People exposed to high enough levels of certain air pollutants may experience burning in their eyes, an irritated throat, or breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause cancer and long-term damage to the immune, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems. In extreme cases, it can even cause death.


Air Quality Index (AQI) - Actions to Protect  You and Your Family

The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what actions you should take to decrease your chance for potential health effects.  The AQI suggests various changes in your daily activities (for example, exercise) depending on the level of pollution and your health status. 

The AQI is calculated based on levels of five major air pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Click here to find the AQI for the geographic area near you.


Particulate Matter (PM) Air Pollution

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. When breathed in, these particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs.  Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant health problems, ranging from aggravated asthma to premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Fine PM is more of a health concern than coarse PM because fine particles can easily reach the deepest parts of the lungs. Sources of fine particulate matter include diesel-powered vehicles, wood-burning stoves, outdoor wood-burning furnaces, power plants, and home heating oil combustion.


Outdoor Wood-Burning Furnaces (OWBF)

OWBF have become popular in recent years.  OWFs can produce a lot of thick smoke, which in addition to being a nuisance to neighbors has serious health and air pollution impacts.  DEEP has new requirements for the installation and operation of all OWBFs installed after July 11 2005.  For more information about OWBFs click here .

Outdoor Wood Boilers (NYDH)

Wet Wood is a Waste (video)

EPA Burnwise Web Page

If you have an air pollution complaint that you wish to report, contact the CT Department of Environmental Protection: dep.aircomplaints@ct.gov or (860) 424-3436


Assessing Outdoor Air Near School (EPA)




Content Last Modified on 1/22/2014 11:12:46 AM