DEEP Forecasts Elevated Levels of Ozone for Connecticut to Coincide with Heat Wave Beginning this Wednesday
(HARTFORD)—Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is expecting high temperatures to reach the mid to upper 90s on Wednesday, which will contribute to elevated ozone levels across coastal Connecticut. These levels may approach or exceed Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) levels for parts of Connecticut on July 20, 2022 and could continue into the rest of the week.
"Heading into the second day of our first summer heat wave, the stage will be set on Wednesday for ozone productionalong coastal Connecticut, extending from Bridgeport to Groton,”DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Governor Lamont has activated Connecticut’s extreme hot weather protocol and DEEP advises everyone to take proper precautions to avoid strenuous outdoor activities, especially during high ozone events. The heat wave and high ozone levels may continue through the end of the week.”
More information on the heat wave can be found at https://portal.ct.gov/DEMHS/Emergency-Management/Resources-For-Individuals/Summer-Weather-Awareness/Extreme-Heat-and-Cooling-Centers.
Health Effects of Air Pollution
When air quality is forecasted 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 make sure you get your activity or exercise in before or after these times to minimize adverse health effects.
Wednesday will feature hot summer-like conditions for Connecticut. Weather models predict that high pressure, currently over the southern states, will start to build into the mid-Atlantic States. Sunny skies will help temperatures rise well into the 90s on Wednesday, and continue for several days. As southwest flow develops, this will transport ozone precursors along the I-95 corridor and into Long Island Sound and southwest Connecticut. Ozone will rapidly form during the late morning hours and be transported into southwest coastal Connecticut. Temperatures in the 90s will persist through the week, likely accompanied by elevated ozone reaching USG levels along the coast, until temperatures subside after the weekend.
What You Can Do to Help
Connecticut suffers from poor air quality, given its location at the “tailpipe of the nation.”While ozone levels in the northeast have improved significantly over the last 30 years, Connecticut continues to struggle to meet both the 2008 and the 2015 EPA standards for ozone, which are necessary to protect families and children from unhealthy air pollution. This challenge is particularly acute in Fairfield, New Haven, and Middlesex counties, where EPA recently proposed to reclassify these counties as "severe nonattainment," due to that portion of our state’s prolonged inability to meet the 2008 ozone standards, a step that will lead to greater emission reduction requirements.
Our state has made great strides implementing control strategies to reduce air pollution, including recently passed legislation such as Public Act 22-25, which includes Gov. Lamont’s proposal to adopt California’s emissions standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, and establishes several new programs and initiatives concerning electric vehicle use and reduction of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. DEEP continues to pursue tools and strategies to address stationary and mobile sources of ozone, and will continue to demand that EPA and upwind states reduce regional air pollution transmitted into Connecticut.
Additionally, there are steps that we can all take to reduce our contribution to local air pollution. DEEP recommends simple, common-sense steps to reduce air pollution that may even help save you some money at the same time!
- Drive Clean –consider purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. Learn more by visiting: www.driveelectricus.com and CHEAPR - Home (ct.gov);
- 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 Indexand sign up to receive alerts so you will know when air quality is predicted to be unhealthy; and
- Small changes add up - 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 and keep tire pressures at their recommended level,
- 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;
- 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 1st through September 30th each year and for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) each day of the year. On April 30, 2022, 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 to do on a high ozone day, and most importantly what you can do to help reduce ground level ozone in your backyard.