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State News

High Temperatures Bring Air Quality Alerts To Connecticut

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Jessica Rinaldi
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Getty Images

Connecticut has experienced several air quality alerts in the past few weeks as summer heats up, and more could be on the way as the hot weather continues.

"The lung association and most organizations kind of track two pollutants in the air, and the one that we pay a lot of attention to right now is ozone,” said Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut.

Canovi says ozone pollution is created during hot summer days.

With temperatures rising, Canovi and the Association are trying to draw attention to the impacts.

"Research has shown that the groups that are at the greatest risk for poor health outcome from ozone pollution in particular in these levels are children and anyone age 65 and older, people with existing lung disease such as asthma or COPD, and also people who work or exercise outdoors," she said.

Canovi suggests that people can remain safe and healthy in the short term by staying indoors when there's an air quality alert, and in the longer term by making lifestyle changes to clean our air.

"Just paying attention and trying to alter your behaviors if you can," she said. "We also encourage people to do their best to clean up the air we have. There's a number of activities that we can engage in throughout the year that will improve the quality of the air that we breathe, like driving less, looking at even if we can electrify the sector or taking public transportation."

Connecticut residents can review the air quality index on AirNow.gov to determine whether it's safe for individuals most at risk to go outside.

"When things look green, it's good; air quality is satisfactory," said Canovi. "Then we go to yellow where it's considered moderate, and that's when we're looking at, there may be a risk for some people, particular people who may be unusually sensitive to air pollution; and then we go to orange, that's an area we're more concerned about. Then we go to red, where it's considered unhealthy some members of the general public may experience health effects."

Canovi said in the past year, six out of the eight counties in Connecticut got an F for the Lung Association’s grade in ozone. Fairfield county generally has the worst ozone pollution in the state and also in the eastern half of the country.