DEP Announces Air Quality Awareness Week

April 30, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov; or Tom Downs, Chief Meteorologist (207) 287-7026 tom.downs@maine.gov

Maine joins states across the nation in recognizing May 4 - 8, 2020 as Air Quality Awareness Week

AUGUSTA, MAINE, April 30, 2020 - The week of May 4th - May 8th is National Air Quality Awareness Week and Maine DEP would like to remind residents that the simple choices we make each day affect our air quality. Whether it's driving the car, mowing the lawn, or even turning the lights on, we all contribute a little bit to air pollution.

Although Maine enjoys some of the best air quality in the nation, our air is still impacted by pollutants like ground-level ozone and fine particles that impact the lungs and heart. Ozone is produced in sunlight from pollutants in the air while Particle Pollution consists of direct emissions of pollution in addition to being created by chemical reactions in a polluted air mass. Maine's peak ozone levels occur during the warmer summer months, while particle pollution levels are higher mostly during the summer and winter months.

Maine DEP forecasts Ozone and Particle Pollution year-round and is available on DEP's website, via toll free hotline, EnviroFlash emails and text messages as well as on Twitter. Forecasts are issued using a color-based Air Quality Index created by EPA. Green - good; Yellow - moderate; Orange - unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people and Red - unhealthy pollution levels for all.

AQI Basics for Ozone and Particle Pollution
Daily AQI Color Levels of Concern Values of Index Description of Air Quality
Green Good 0 to 50 Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
Yellow Moderate 51 to 100 Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Orange Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 101 to 150 Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.
Red Unhealthy 151 to 200 Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
Purple Very Unhealthy 201 to 300 Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
Maroon Hazardous 301 and higher Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.

While sensitive people may feel the impacts sooner or at lower levels when the air is in the unhealthy for sensitive groups (USG) or higher category, everyone should think about ways to reduce their exposure. Please take some time to think about how you contribute to air pollution and what you can do to make a positive difference. Here are a few ways to help reduce air pollution in your community especially, on days when the air quality is expected to be unhealthy:

  • Conserve electricity
  • Choose a cleaner commute by carpooling or using public transportation where available
  • Combine errands, reduce trips
  • Defer the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment until early evening hours
  • Limit idling
  • Refuel vehicles after dusk
  • Use environmentally friendly paints and cleaning products

For more information about Air Quality visit Maine DEPs website at http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/index.html or follow air quality by region on Twitter at:

Acadia-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Acadia

Portland-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Portland

Lewiston-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Lewiston

Bangor-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Bangor