Heat ushers in unhealthy air today and tomorrow


Unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” has been forecast for today, July 20, and tomorrow, July 21, by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Elevated ground-level ozone pollution is predicted for southern sections of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London counties.
A forecast of “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” indicates increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms and breathing discomfort in active children and adults with respiratory disease, such as asthma, and the elderly.
“It’s been a while since our last official heat wave, so I want to remind everyone to take simple precautions when temperatures are high and air quality is poor,” Commissioner Rob Klee said. “Summer time in Connecticut is a great time to be outdoors, but be sure to drink plenty of water and get to an air-conditioned room if you need to cool down and catch your breath.”
Health effects of air pollution
Unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone can cause or make worse a variety of respiratory and other health problems including breathing difficulty, coughing, and throat irritation. It can also worsen asthma episodes. Anyone can be affected by ozone; particularly sensitive groups that include children, the elderly, people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, and even healthy adults who are very active outdoors.
Ground-level or “bad” ozone primarily occurs during very warm summer days. Strong sunshine causes chemical reactions of air pollutants emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industry and household activities, forming ozone. Warmer weather can bring high levels of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.
Weather forecast
High pressure off the southeastern coast of the U.S. will continue to bring warmer air and elevated levels of ozone from downwind air pollution sources into Connecticut. In addition to migrating air pollution, “home grown” pollution will be intensified by the combination of strong July sunlight and temperatures in the low 90s. A cool front will cross the area Tuesday night, switching the wind to the northwest and ushering in slightly cooler and much drier air, thus reducing high concentrations of ground-level ozone on Wednesday.