WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP)– The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding Massachusetts residents who may have respiratory and other health issues that they can check the air quality on a new EPA website.

As part of Air Quality Awareness Week (May 1-5), the EPA wants residents to be aware of when to take precautions when air quality is poor due to ground-level ozone and fine particle air pollution.

The EPA’s AirNow website provides daily current air quality conditions and next-day forecasts. The EPA also offers Air Quality Alerts for free through the EnviroFlash system that issues automatic notifications by email or text message when ozone or fine particle pollution levels in their area are predicted to be high. 

“The New England States have made great strides in reducing air emissions, but ozone air pollution continues to be a significant public health issue in our communities,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “New Englanders, especially the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, should pay close attention to air quality and limit strenuous outdoor activity on days when poor air quality is expected. We also know that many historically underserved communities have suffered from exposure to more air pollution over the years and may also suffer from higher asthma rates. When air quality is poor, we can all take individual actions to reduce our emissions that contribute to air pollution, such as reducing energy use and driving less.”

The EPA issued an early alert on April 13, 2023 that impacted South central Massachusetts (Worcester, Hampton, Hampshire counties), Rhode Island (statewide), and southeastern Connecticut. That day saw a record 89 degrees reported at Westover Air Reserve Base, breaking the previous April 13 record high temperature of 85, set in 1945.

Poor air quality is created by several sources including motor vehicle exhaust, industrial air discharges, and fossil-fuel burning at electric generating stations, especially on hot days.  Other smaller sources that create air pollution include gasoline stations and print shops, and household products, such as paints and cleaners, gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment.

There are multiple ways everyone can help to reduce air pollution:

  • Use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
  • Combine errands and carpool to reduce driving time and mileage.
  • Avoid using small gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors, and leaf blowers.
  • Avoid outdoor burning, including leaf burning and use of firepits and campfires.

While air pollution impacts everyone, persons who suffer from respiratory diseases are more sensitive to the poor air and may have to remain indoors or require masking when outside.