(Boston, Mass) – EPA confirmed that New Englanders
experienced a slight decrease in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year,
compared to 2015.
6 days in Rhode Island (10 in 2015)
Based on preliminary data collected between April and September 2016, there were 32
days when ozone monitors in New England recorded ozone concentrations above levels
considered healthy. By contrast, in 2015 there were a total of 38 unhealthy ozone
The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer, and for last summer
are as follows:
– 31 days in Connecticut (compared to 33 in 2015)
– 11 days in Massachusetts (15 in 2015)
– 6 days in Rhode Island (10 in 2015)
– 5 days in New Hampshire (7 in 2015)
– 4 days in Maine (4 in 2015)
– 1 day in Vermont (0 in 2015).
The number of unhealthy days (when ozone concentrations exceed the 0.070 parts per
million standard) vary from year to year, due to weather conditions. Hot, sunny
weather is conducive to ozone formation. This year, New England experienced more
days when the temperature exceeded 90 F than last year. However, even with warmer
temperatures and an abundance of sunshine, ozone air quality improved over last
summer. This continues the long-term trend towards cleaner air in New England. Since
1983, New England has experienced a significant decrease in the number of unhealthy
ozone days. In 1983, New England had 118 unhealthy days, compared with 32 this year.
This downward trend is due to a reduction in emissions that form ozone.
Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen
chemically react in the presence of sunlight. In New England, cars and trucks give
off the majority of the pollution that makes ozone. Fossil fuels burning at electric
power plants, which run at high capacities on hot days, emit substantial amounts of
ozone-making pollution. Gasoline refilling stations, print shops, household products
like paints and cleaners, as well as gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment,
also contribute to ozone formation.
“We can all feel proud of the progress we have made in reducing ozone pollution over
the past several decades,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New
England office. “Unfortunately New England, especially coastal Connecticut,
continues to experience an unacceptable number of days with unhealthful air quality.
EPA is taking steps to improve ozone air quality, such as issuing rules to reduce
air pollution from passenger cars and trucks and power plants.”
Last year, EPA finalized even tighter standards for new cars sold after 2017. The
automobile and gasoline rule, known as Tier 3, will help lower automobile pollution
by a significant margin. Compared to current automobile standards, the Tier 3
emissions standards for cars represent an additional 80% reduction of ozone causing
pollution when compared to today’s average. In addition, earlier this month, EPA
issued an update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). Starting in May
2017, this rule will reduce summertime NOX emissions from power plants in 22 states
in the eastern U.S. Although the 2016 ozone season is ending, pollution from small
particles in the air is a year-round concern.
The daily air quality forecast will continue to be available at
http://www3.epa.gov/ne/aqi/ New Englanders can also sign up at this address to
receive air quality alerts. These alerts are issued by e-mail, whenever necessary,
to notify program participants when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or
small particles are predicted to occur, in their area.
Historical charts of unhealthy air days from 1983 through 2016 are available for
each New England state on EPA New England’s web site at:
www3.epa.gov/ne/airquality/standard.html A preliminary list of the unhealthy
readings recorded this summer by date and monitor location, and corresponding air
quality maps for each day, can be found at: