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Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Announces National Air Quality Awareness Week, April 30 - May 4

May 1-- Beginning of the 2018 Ozone Forecasting Season

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is promoting the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Air Quality Where You Are” campaign to increase air quality awareness and inspire people to take local actions to protect their health and the environment as part of National Air Quality Awareness Week that begins today, April 30, 2018. 
This year’s campaign encourages individuals to take simple, common sense steps to reduce their contribution to air pollution. 
  • Drive Clean –considered purchasing or leasing a plug-in electric vehicle. Learn more by visiting:;
  • Drive Less - consider carpooling, vanpooling, using public transit or even telecommuting;
  • Save Energy- setting air conditioners to 78o and “Wait ‘til 8” to use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers;
  • 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; and
  • 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 until evening
    4. Limit your outdoor activity in the heat of the day
    5. Refraining from recreational wood burning;
  • Remembering 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. 
DEEP also wants to remind everyone, that with warmer weather on the way, high levels of ground level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pose health risks to the public.  Unhealthy concentrations of ground level ozone can cause or exacerbate a variety of respiratory and health problems, including asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, and throat irritation.
The impacts of unhealthy concentrations of air pollution can be more severe for sensitive groups such as, children, the elderly, adults who are active outdoors, and people with existing respiratory disease and asthma. People in sensitive groups may experience adverse effects at even at lower ozone concentrations.  When ozone levels are elevated, the public should avoid strenuous outdoor activities and consider remaining indoors in an air-conditioned environment.
Background Information
Ozone Standard Strengthened in 2015
On October 26, 2015, the EPA revised the eight-hour ozone standard from 75 ppb to a more stringent standard of 70 ppb.  Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review and re-evaluate the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) every five (5) years and determine if the current ozone standard protects public health from harmful effects of air pollution. 
Connecticut reported 20 “bad air” days above the new standard during the 2017 ozone season.

Learn more about the implications associated with implementing the 2015 ozone standard by visiting DEEP’s AQI website.
Ground Level Ozone Formation and Transport
Ground level or "bad" ozone occurs primarily during hot summer days. Strong summer sunshine reacts with “local” air pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), emitted from motor vehicles, power plants, industry, and household activities, and forms ozone.  Cars and trucks, industrial facilities, electric utilities are responsible for most of Connecticut’s local air pollution.  Unfortunately, not all of Connecticut’s air pollution is local.  Ozone is also transported into Connecticut on prevailing winds from the southwest.  This means that air pollution from cities along the Interstate-95 Corridor and power plants from the mid-west and mid-Atlantic areas also impacts air quality in Connecticut.  Likewise, our local air pollution can also impact air quality elsewhere in New England.
Forecasting Air Quality for Connecticut
Air pollution impacts public health, so it’s important for people to know when air quality is expected to be unhealthy.  DEEP tracks and forecasts daily air quality levels across Connecticut for ozone from May 1 through September 30 each year and daily throughout the year for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). DEEP informs the public and Connecticut’s regulated community each day during the spring and summer of the predicted ozone levels via the State of Connecticut E-mail list serve, air quality forecasts on DEEP’s AQI Website and on Twitter.
DEEP strongly encourages childcare providers, summer camps and elder care/senior centers to subscribe to the AQI forecast. 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, and its health effects.  
Stay connected and access the daily AQI forecast
Twitter: @CTDEEPNews
Facebook: DEEP on Facebook