Island under air quality advisory

A screen shot of the air quality forecast for Thursday, Aug. 26.

Air quality on the Vineyard Thursday could cause problems for those in sensitive health groups and those with pre-existing lung conditions, as ground-level ozone settles into the area, according to a press release issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Areas in Coastal Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, and southeastern Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the Islands, are predicted to exceed the federal air quality standard for ozone established by the EPA.

The EPA suggests that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity when poor air quality is expected, according to the release.

Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen interact in the presence of strong sunshine. Large combustion sources, cars, trucks, and buses emit the majority of the pollution that creates ozone. Emissions from gasoline stations, print shops, household products like paints and some cleaners, as well as lawn and garden equipment also add to the ozone problem.

Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung conditions, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. When ozone levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems, according to the release.

When ozone is forecast to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, members of the public are encouraged to help limit emissions and reduce ozone by using public transportation, combining errands and carpooling to reduce driving time and mileage, using less electricity, and avoiding the use of small gasoline-powered engines. 

The current ozone standard is 0.070 parts per million (ppm). So far this year, there have been 20 days in New England when ozone concentrations have exceeded the standard.