Vermont Business Magazine The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England Regional Office confirmed today that the number of unhealthy air quality days among New England residents increased slightly this year compared to 2021. Based on preliminary data collected between March and September 2022, there were 24 days that ozone monitors in New England recorded ozone concentrations above what are considered healthy levels. In contrast, there were 23 unhealthy ozone days in New England in 2021. No such days were recorded in Vermont this year or last year.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the federal and state governments, we have made great strides in reducing ozone pollution and providing cleaner air to our communities over the past few decades,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Unfortunately, New England, and the Connecticut coast in particular, continues to experience an unacceptable number of days of unhealthy air quality. The EPA is taking steps to improve ozone air quality, such as: B. Implementing regulations to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks and power plants.”
The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer (and last summer) is as follows:
- 23 days in Connecticut (compared to 21 in 2021)
- 2 days in Maine (4 in 2021)
- 4 days in Massachusetts (4 in 2021)
- 2 days in New Hampshire (3 in 2021)
- 5 days in Rhode Island (5 in 2021)
- 0 days in Vermont (0 in 2021).
New England as a whole experienced 24 days of unhealthy air quality in 2022 versus 23 days of unhealthy air quality in 2021.
This means, for example, if there was an overage in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island in one day, that would count as ONE overrun for EACH of the states, but only ONE overrun day for New England as a whole.
It basically counts as one to the total of 24 days we’ve seen this year in 2022, but counts again to the number of exceedances in each of the affected states. That’s why Connecticut, for example, has more unhealthy air quality days this year than New England as a whole.
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides or NO are producedX, (ozone precursors) interact under strong solar radiation. Large combustion sources, cars, trucks and buses emit most of the pollution that creates ozone. Emissions from gas stations, printers, household products such as paint and some cleaning supplies, and lawn and garden equipment also contribute to the ozone problem.
The number of unhealthy days (when the ozone concentration exceeds the standard of 0.070 parts per million) varies from year to year due to weather conditions. Hot, sunny summer weather promotes ozone formation. For 2022, the summer has been hot and dry. Much of New England experienced above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall, leading to severe droughts in many regions, particularly in July and August. This is reflected in the number of unhealthy days in five of the six New England states during those two months. Since 1983, New England has seen a decline in the number of unhealthy ozone days. In 1983, New England had 118 unhealthy days, compared to 24 that year. This downward trend is due to a reduction in ozone-forming emissions.
In 2014, the EPA set strict standards for new cars sold after 2017. The automobile and gasoline rule, known as Tier 3, will help significantly reduce car pollution. Tier 3 emissions standards for cars mean an additional 80% reduction in ozone-causing pollution compared to the 2014 average. In addition, the EPA issued an update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which went into effect on June 29, 2021. This rule reduces Daylight Saving Time NOX Emissions from power plants in 12 states in the eastern United States. EPA is currently working to achieve additional reductions through the proposed heavy-duty engine and vehicle standards for new trucks and the 2015 Ozone NAAQS Good Neighbor Plan for power plants and other large industrial sources. Once finalized, these rules will better control many of the major pollution sources that contribute to ground-level ozone formation. Although the 2022 ozone season is coming to an end, pollution from small particles in the air is a year-round concern.
The daily air quality forecast is still available at: https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/aqi.html. New Englanders can also subscribe to this address to receive air quality alerts. These alerts will be issued via email on demand to notify program participants when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or small particles are predicted in their area.
Historical charts of unhealthy air days from 1983 to 2022 for each New England state are available on the EPA New England website at: https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/histexc.html. For a preliminary list of unhealthy readings recorded this summer by date and monitoring location, and corresponding air quality maps for each day, go to: https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-22.html.
Learn more about WPA Region 1: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-1-new-england
BOSTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency