Maine DEP Issues Air Quality Advisory

June 21, 2013

CONTACT:
Contact: Martha Webster (207) 287 8093 martha.e.webster@maine.gov Tom Downs (207) 287-7026 tom.downs@maine.gov

(AUGUSTA)—Weather conditions and transport winds favor higher levels of ozone for Maine beginning Saturday and continuing into next week. Therefore, ground-level ozone concentrations will be climbing in Maine and are expected to reach unhealthy levels according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Each day has the potential for some areas, especially along the coast, to reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range on the Air Quality Index. The timing and location of afternoon showers and thunderstorms will determine how high ozone levels climb. Maine DEP issues the air quality forecast every day by 3 PM for the next day. If the forecast is going to be revised for the current day it must be done by 10 AM. Please check the website and hotline for the latest air quality forecast information. Additionally, EnviroFlash and Twitter provide air quality forecast information. These will be updated as necessary during the weekend.

Additionally, particle pollution levels will also be climbing across the state.

At high ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or COPD can experience reduced lung function and irritation. When this happens, individuals may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest.

Some actions you can take to protect your health during periods of unhealthy air quality include: • Adjusting your schedule to avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon. • If you are indoors, close windows and circulate indoor air with a fan or air conditioner. • Avoid using aerosol products such as cleaners, paints, and other lung irritants. • The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma action plan forms and other information available at their web site: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat/index.htm • For more information on asthma control visit EPA's Web site www.epa.gov/asthma to find fact sheets, brochures, children's activity books, and educational videos with information about asthma triggers and lessons on asthma management.

There are several ways that Maine’s citizens can follow the air quality forecast. In addition to those listed above, sports coaches, elder care workers, nurses and others who are responsible for the welfare of people impacted by poor air quality are urged to use one of the following tools to know when air quality is expected to be poor: • Air Quality Forecast page: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/ which has links to: o EnviroFlash, EPA’s email and text alert system, http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/enviroflash.html o Twitter, for sign up information go to: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/twitter.html o EPA’s mobile app is available at: http://m.epa.gov/apps/airnow.html • DEP's toll free air quality hotline is 1-800-223-1196

The possibility of high ozone and particle pollution is an appropriate time to remind Maine’s citizens that ground level ozone is formed by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and sunlight. Man-made sources of NOx and VOCs include automobiles, trucks and buses, large combustion and industrial sources such as power generating facilities, consumer products such as paints and cleaners, and gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Although the high ozone and elevated particle pollution levels that effect Maine’s air quality often come from other regions of the country and Canada, citizens can take the following actions to help reduce emissions that contribute to the formation of ozone: • Conserve electricity. • Choose a cleaner commute, such as carpooling or using public transportation. • Defer the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment until after dusk. • Limit idling of vehicles. • Refuel cars and trucks after dusk. • Combine errands and reduce vehicle trips. • Use environmentally-friendly paints and cleaning products with low VOC content.

For more information call the contacts listed above or go to DEP’s air quality web site http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/. #####