DEP reminds Mainers about available air quality resources

May 1, 2013

CONTACT:
Marc Cone, Director, Bureau of Air Quality Control (207) 287-1932

-The state’s lead environmental agency is using the designated National Air Quality Awareness Week to remind Mainers about resources available for making informed decisions during elevated pollution periods, which have decreased in recent years-

AUGUSTA — With National Air Quality Awareness Week beginning today, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is reminding Mainers of the free resources it offers for citizen tracking of the state’s air quality. DEP’s meteorologists forecast air quality year-round using a color-coded air quality index. Two pollutants are of primary concern for impacts to the lungs and heart: ozone pollution, usually highest from May through September, and particle pollution, most elevated during the summer and winter months.

On most days in Maine, levels for both are measured in the “good” range (green) but when they rise into the “moderate” range (yellow), individuals who are sensitive to pollution should reduce their exposure and exertion. At the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range (orange), even healthy individuals who are exercising or working strenuously can be negatively affected and should reduce their exposure in certain locations and during certain times of day.

Daily air quality forecasts are available on the department’s website at http://www.maine.gov/dep/air and via a toll-free hotline at (800) 223-1196.

Forecasts can also be accessed each day on DEP’s four air quality Twitter accounts, one for each region where alerts have been issued in recent years including midcoast (Twitter handle: meair_acadia), eastern interior (Twitter handle: meair_bangor), western interior (Twitter handle: meair_lewiston) and the southwest coast (Twitter handle: meair_portland).

People who are affected by poor air quality including asthmatics and those with heart conditions as well as sports coaches, elder care workers and nurses who are responsible for the welfare of people impacted by poor air quality are also urged to sign up for EnviroFlash http://www.enviroflash.info an automated, zip code based electronic alert system that warns when air quality is likely to be poor locally through text messages and email.

Most of Maine’s air quality concerns are a result of polluted air being transported into the state. Air quality in the state is the best it has been in decades, with only four days in 2012 when air quality was considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, compared to 19 days in 2002, during which there were also eight “unhealthy” days and one “very unhealthy” day.

For more information about DEP’s resources for monitoring air quality and recommendations on safe exercise during air quality events, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/air