Contact: Cyndy Chanaca
Dept. Energy & Environmental Protection
Tel: (860) 424-3219
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Asks Residents to
Help Achieve Cleaner Air During National Air Quality Awareness Week,
April 27 - May 1
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) encourages you to change your habits to help reduce air pollution as part of National Air Quality Awareness week, which begins today.
“The key to reducing air pollution is reducing energy use -- because burning fuels to create energy produces pollution,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “Some great ways to reduce energy use and reduce pollution are to ‘Wait ‘til 8’ – a program that encourages use of energy intensive appliances including washers, dryers and dishwashers during ‘non-peak’ hours, -- avoid idling motor vehicles, and use of programmable thermostat that only cools and heats your home when needed.”
National Air Quality Awareness Week
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsor the annual Air Quality Awareness Week and urges all Americans to “Be Air Aware” by providing information on air quality, how it impacts the public and the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a color coded index that lists both predicted and actual air pollution levels. Starting April 30, DEEP will be 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 several ways to stay connected and access the daily AQI forecast and real-time air quality data:
Sign-up to get Air Quality email alerts thru EnviroFlash.
Visit DEEP’s web page at ct.gov/deep/aqi or call the hotline at 800.249.1234
School Flag Program
The School Flag Program is EPA’s Air Quality Program that uses colored flags based on the Air Quality Index (AQI) to notify teachers, students, administrators and the local community of air quality conditions. DEEP encourages Connecticut’s public, private and state technical schools to participate in the School Flag Program to educate and inform children about ground level ozone, what to do on high ozone days and its’ health effects. Click here to request more information on how to adopt the School Flag Program in your school!
Ground Level Ozone Formation and Transport
Ground level or "bad" ozone occurs primarily during hot summer days. Strong summer sunshine causes chemical reactions of air pollutants emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industry, and household activities, forming ozone. Warmer weather can bring high levels of ground level ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These two air pollutants pose serious health risks – especially to young children, the elderly, adults who are active outdoors, and people with existing respiratory disease.
Ozone levels in Connecticut are highest when winds are from the southwest, carrying pollutants into Connecticut from cities along the Interstate-95 corridor and power plants in the Ohio River Valley region. During high ozone events, transported ozone is often already at unhealthy levels as winds blow into Connecticut across its western and southern boundaries. Emissions from Connecticut sources then prolong the event, contributing to high ozone levels throughout the state and elsewhere in adjacent New England states.
Ozone Monitoring Season
This week is also the start of DEEP’s 2015 Ozone Forecasting 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. DEEP will begin 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 on the DEEP web page, available here.
DEEP encourages day care providers, summer camps and elder care/senior centers to subscribe to the AQI. Subscribing to the AQI is fast and easy and will provide you with important information each day about Connecticut’s air quality throughout 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 own backyard.
“Poor outdoor air quality is one of the greatest environmental threats to human health, and there are many occasions each year when pollution levels endanger public health,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “It is important for people to take appropriate precautions when DEEP forecasts unhealthy levels of air pollution, particularly those who are at greatest risk including people with lung disease such as asthma, older adults, children and teenagers, and people who are active outdoors.”
Health Effects of Air Pollution
In a recent report, the World Health Organization estimates that air pollution exposure was responsible for approximately seven million deaths in 2012 and that “air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.”
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.