(AUGUSTA)– Ground-level ozone concentrations will be climbing in Maine beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday and are expected to reach unhealthy levels according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Ozone levels have been building in Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic states over the last few days. This pool of ozone will be transported to the Gulf of Maine and cause ozone values to reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range of the Air Quality Index along areas of the Coast.
Friday’s highest levels of ozone are expected along the Mid-Coast and Downeast Coastal regions. On Saturday the highest levels of ozone are likely for the Southwest Coast and Mid-Coastal regions. Ozone levels will likely continue into Sunday but are expected to be washed out by the approaching Low pressure system before Monday. Additionally, particle pollution levels will also be rising and likely reach the Moderate range for the southern portion of the state during the weekend.
At high ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or COPD can experience reduced lung function and irritation. When this happens, individuals may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest.
Some actions you can take to protect your health during periods of unhealthy air quality include:
- Adjusting your schedule to avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon.
- If you are indoors, close windows and circulate indoor air with a fan or air conditioner.
- Avoid using aerosol products such as cleaners, paints, and other lung irritants.
- The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma action plan forms and other information available at their web site: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat/index.htm
- For more information on asthma control visit EPA’s Web site www.epa.gov/asthma to find fact sheets, brochures, children’s activity books, and educational videos with information about asthma triggers and lessons on asthma management.
There are several ways that Maine’s citizens can follow the air quality forecast. In addition to those listed above, sports coaches, elder care workers, nurses and others who are responsible for the welfare of people impacted by poor air quality are urged to use one of the following tools to know when air quality is expected to be poor:
Air Quality Forecast page: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/ which has links to:
- EnviroFlash, EPA’s email and text alert system, http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/enviroflash.html
- Twitter, for sign up information go to: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/twitter.html
- EPA’s mobile app is available at: http://m.epa.gov/apps/airnow.html DEP’s toll free air quality hotline is 1-800-223-1196
For more information call the contacts listed above or go to DEP’s air quality web site http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/
May 30, 2013