Elevated Levels of Ozone for Western and Coastal Connecticut Over the July 18th Weekend
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is expecting several days of very warm weather, which will contribute to elevated ozone levels across parts of Connecticut. These levels may approach or exceed Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) levels for western Connecticut, on Sunday, July 19, 2020. The impacted area includes western Connecticut as far inland as Cornwall and along the coast from Greenwich to Madison.
“With extremely high temperatures expected this weekend and the phased reopening of Connecticut and neighboring states underway, more people than ever will want to visit our state beaches to beat the heat,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “It’s important that everyone continue to social distance and try to avoid the hottest part of the day when ozone levels are the highest. State park capacity continues to be limited.”
“We’ve been fortunate that ozone levels have been much lower this year than over the past several years which we think is mostly due to decreased emissions and weather patterns,” said Dykes, “but ozone exposure remains a public health threat and our vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory diseases. Even healthy adults who spend prolonged periods outdoors working or exercising should take care to recognize the effects of air pollution and curtail strenuous activity when our air quality is impaired.”
Health Effects of Air Pollution
When air quality is forecast to be USG, there is an increased likelihood individuals in sensitive groups will develop respiratory symptoms and may experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Children and people with asthma or other lung disease are most at risk for experiencing these symptoms. Active children and adults, and people with impaired lung function or cardiovascular disease should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Peak ozone levels generally occur between 2-8 PM EDT, so exercising in the morning before ozone levels are elevated can help to minimize adverse health effects.
DEEP’s most recent weather models predict a high pressure ridge will move to the southeastern U.S. and cause heat and humidity to be pumped into our region starting on Saturday, July18th and continuing through Sunday, July 19th. This means that temperatures may rise well into the 90s with winds out of the southwest. This weather pattern will enable interstate air pollution to enter Connecticut from along the I-95 corridor to our southwest where it will mix with local emissions and, in the warm temperatures, oxidize to form the secondary pollutant, ozone. A cold front may stall off the Connecticut coast on Monday, bringing showers and lowering the ozone levels.
What You Can Do to Help
While DEEP implements programs to reduce air pollution in Connecticut and works cooperatively with nearby states to reduce the amount of dirty air coming into our state, we all have the ability to reduce our contribution to local air pollution. DEEP recommends simple, common sense steps to reduce your impact:
- Learn more about air quality – check out these four short and informative videos by DEEP
- Drive Less - consider carpooling, vanpooling, using public transit or even telecommuting
- Reduce or Shift Energy Demand – purchase energy efficient products like ENERGY STAR® LED lights and ENERGY STAR® air conditioning, use programmable thermostats set to 78o or higher when no one is home, and use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers later in the day
- Be Aware of Your Air -Understand the Air Quality Index and sign up to receive alerts so you will know when air quality is predicted to be unhealthy
- When you know there will be an unhealthy air day-make small changes to your routine:
- Refuel your vehicle after dusk and stop refueling when the nozzle clicks off.
- Avoid idling your vehicle unnecessarily.
- Delay mowing your lawn or using other lawn and garden equipment.
- Limit your outdoor activity in the heat of the day.
- Refrain from recreational wood burning.
- Drive Clean – consider purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. Learn more by visiting: www.driveelectricus.com;
- Remember that knowledge is power! Ask your school if they participate in the School Flag Program, EPA’s Air Quality awareness tool that uses colored flags based on the AQI to notify teachers, students, administrators and the local community of air quality conditions.
Stay connected and access the daily AQI forecast and real-time air quality data
- Follow us on Twitter
- Sign up to get Air-Quality alerts through Enviroflash
- Visit DEEP’s AQI webpage or call 800-249-1234
- Go to EPA’s AIRNow web page
- Download EPA’s AIRnow app for your phone
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, 2020, 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 Air Quality Index (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.