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07/24/2020

DEEP Forecasts Elevated Levels of Ozone for Western and Coastal Connecticut Over July 25th 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 Coastal Connecticut, on Sunday, July 26, 2020, and Monday July 27, 2020.  The impacted area for both days includes all coastal towns extending from Greenwich to Stonington.

“As we move into the dog days of summer, many people will head to Connecticut’s shoreline where temperatures tend to be a little lower,” said Betsey Wingfield, DEEP’s Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Quality. “As DEEP is predicting unhealthy air quality along the entire Connecticut coast line on Sunday and Monday, it is 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.”

This summer Connecticut has experienced fewer overall days when ozone (smog) levels have approached unhealthy levels due to favorable weather patterns and decreased emissions.  However, the weather pattern for this weekend will bring polluted air up the I-95 corridor from as far away as Washington D.C. where it will mix with local air pollution from cars and trucks in the presence of very warm temperatures to form ozone, which is a strong respiratory irritant.  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 most impaired, which usually occurs between the hours of 2 – 8 P.M.

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.

Weather Summary

DEEP’s most recent weather models predict an offshore high-pressure system bringing heat wave conditions beginning on Saturday and not ending until Tuesday. This means that temperatures may rise well into the high 80s and low 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. 

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:
    1. Refuel your vehicle after dusk and stop refueling when the nozzle clicks off.
    2. Avoid idling your vehicle unnecessarily.
    3. Delay mowing your lawn or using other lawn and garden equipment.
    4. Limit your outdoor activity in the heat of the day.
    5. 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.

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Contact

DEEP Communications  
DEEP.communications@ct.gov
860-424-3110