Those hazy days of summer may mean high smog levels for some northeastern U.S. states, but you can help reduce air pollution where you live, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.
Smog is a combination of ground-level ozone and fine particle air pollution.
“Air pollution is a significant public health issue in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the EPA’s New England office.
“New Englanders need to pay close attention to air-quality alerts and limit strenuous outdoor activity on air-quality alert days. In addition, we can all take individual actions to reduce the air pollution that contributes to this public health risk,” he said in an agency news release.
As part of Air Quality Awareness Week May 2-6, the EPA outlined four steps you can take to reduce air pollution, including:
- Use public transit or walk whenever possible.
- Set air conditioning to a higher temperature.
- Turn off lights, computers and TVs when not in use.
- Don’t use gasoline-powered equipment, such as lawn mowers, trimmers, chain saws, power washers, air compressors and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
If you want to know the air quality in your area, you can sign up to receive free air-quality alerts from the EPA. Participants are notified by email or text message when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or fine particle air pollution is predicted in their area.
New England state air agencies issue daily air-quality forecasts, and current air-quality conditions and next-day forecasts are also available on the EPA website.
Due to a stricter ozone standard introduced last fall, the EPA expects a higher number of ozone-related air-quality alerts in New England this summer.
There has been a significant decrease in the number of unhealthy ozone days in New England since the early 1980s. Based on the new ozone standard, there were 118 unhealthy days in 1983, and 38 in 2015, the EPA said.
Ground-level ozone is generally created by chemical reactions between certain compounds from sources such as car exhaust, chemical solvents and industrial plant emissions, according to the EPA. Fine particle pollution is often made up of toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and mercury, which are too small to see with the naked eye.
To sign up for EPA air quality alerts, click here.