FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Everyone in Fairfield County should be more "air aware" as air quality becomes a concern in the hot days of summer, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says.
As warmer weather arrives, ground level ozone and fine particulate matter pose health risks – especially to young children, the elderly, adults who are active outdoors and people with existing respiratory disease, according to a DEEP statement. That is an immediate concern, with high temperatures expected to hit 90 degrees on Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
“High levels of air pollution impact the health of everyone, but sensitive people, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory disease are at greater risk,” DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said in the statement. “I urge everyone to be ‘Air Aware’ and sign up for DEEP’s daily air quality updates, which are an important service we provide for everyone in Connecticut.”
Unhealthy concentrations of ground level ozone or fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) can cause a variety of respiratory and other health problems, including breathing difficulty, coughing and throat irritation. Breathing ozone can affect lung function and worsen asthma episodes, DEEP said.
The department monitors the state’s air quality and posts air quality forecasts each day on its Air Quality Index web page . Connecticut experienced 27 unhealthy air quality days during 2012, according to the release. Fairfield County has already had one air quality alert this season, with ozone rising to the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" level last week.
When air pollution reaches "unhealthy levels for sensitive groups," DEEP recommends taking the following steps:
- Conserving electricity by setting air conditioners to 78 degrees.
- Waiting until 8 p.m. to use energy intensive appliances such as washing machines, dryers and dishwashers.
- Driving less by carpooling, vanpooling or using public transit.
- Telecommuting, if possible.
- Refueling your vehicle after dusk and never idling a vehicle unnecessarily.
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