The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today announced the start of the 2013 ozone forecasting season and National Air Quality Awareness week.
DEEP urges everyone to be “Air Aware.” With warmer weather finally arriving after a long winter, DEEP reminds everyone that high levels of ground level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pose health risks – especially to young children, the elderly, adults who are active outdoors, and people with existing respiratory disease.
“High levels of air pollution impact the health of everyone, but sensitive people, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory disease are at greater risk,” said DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. “I urge everyone to be ‘Air Aware’ and sign up for DEEP’s daily air quality updates, which are an important service we provide for everyone in Connecticut.”
“When DEEP forecasts unhealthy levels of air pollution, people need to take notice and take appropriate precautions,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “When Connecticut experiences poor air quality, everyone should limit outdoor exertion during the warmest part of the day and sensitive individuals may be better served by remaining in an air conditioned environment.”
DEEP monitors the state’s air quality and posts air quality forecasts each day on the Air Quality Index (AQI). DEEP encourages schools, day care providers, summer camps and elder care/senior centers to subscribe to the AQI. Subscribing is fast and easy and will provide you with important information each day about Connecticut’s air quality throughout the spring and summer.
Unhealthy concentrations of ground level ozone or PM2.5 can cause a variety of respiratory and other health problems including breathing difficulty, coughing and throat irritation. Breathing ozone can affect lung function and worsen asthma episodes.
Connecticut experienced 27 unhealthy air quality days during 2012. When air pollution levels are predicted to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups” DEEP recommends:
· Conserving electricity by setting air conditioners to 78o;
· “Wait ‘til 8” to use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers;
· Driving less by carpooling, vanpooling or using public transit;
· Telecommuting if possible; and
· Refueling your vehicle after dusk and never idling a vehicle unnecessarily.
DEEP monitors, tracks and forecasts daily air quality levels across Connecticut for fine PM2.5 each day of the year, and for ozone from May 1 through September 30 each year. On April 30, 2013, DEEP began 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 numerous ways to access the daily AQI forecast and real-time air quality data:
· Click on the Air Quality Index hyperlink on DEEP’s web page to obtain the current forecasted and real-time air quality levels for ground level ozone and PM2.5.
· Go to EPA’s AIRNow web page.
· A Twitter link is available to follow daily air quality forecasts and alerts that are generated by EPA’s EnviroFlash system, providing the latest air quality information and alerts by e-mail.
· To receive daily AQI e-mail alerts, click the EnviroFlash link http://www.enviroflash.info/, allowing you the option to subscribe for a daily AQI e-mail forecast.
· Finally, the AQI forecast is available by calling DEEP’s air quality hot-lines at 800.249.1234.