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BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New England regional office today confirmed that New Englanders experienced a slight increase in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared with 2021. Based on preliminary data collected between March and September 2022, there were 24 days when ozone monitors in New England recorded ozone concentrations above levels considered healthy. By contrast, in 2021 there were 23 unhealthy ozone days in New England.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of federal and state efforts, we made great progress in reducing ozone pollution over the past several decades and providing cleaner air for our communities,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Unfortunately, New England and especially coastal Connecticut continues to experience an unacceptable number of days with unhealthful air quality. EPA is taking steps to improve ozone air quality, such as implementing rules to reduce air pollution from passenger cars and trucks and power plants.”

The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer (and for last summer) is as follows:

  • 23 days in Connecticut (compared with 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).

Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen, or NOX, (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunshine. Large combustion sources, cars, trucks, and buses emit most 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.

The number of unhealthy days (when ozone concentrations exceed the 0.070 parts per million standard) varies from year to year, due to weather conditions. Hot, sunny, summery weather is conducive to ozone formation. For 2022, the summer was hot and dry. Much of New England experienced above average temperatures and below average precipitation, with many regions experiencing severe drought as a result, especially during July and August. This is reflected in the number of unhealthy days across five of the six New England states during those two months. Since 1983, New England has experienced a decrease in the number of unhealthy ozone days. In 1983, New England had 118 unhealthy days, compared with 24 this year. This downward trend is due to a reduction in emissions that form ozone.

In 2014, EPA finalized stringent standards for new cars sold after 2017. The automobile and gasoline rule, known as Tier 3, will help lower automobile pollution by a significant margin. The Tier 3 emissions standards for cars represent an additional 80% reduction of ozone-causing pollution when compared to the average in 2014. In addition, EPA issued an update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which went into effect on June 29, 2021. This rule reduces summertime 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 Good Neighbor Plan for 2015 Ozone NAAQS for power plants and other large industrial sources. Once finalized, these rules will better control the many of the most significant sources of pollution that contribute to the formation of ground level ozone. Although the 2022 ozone season is ending, pollution from small particles in the air is a year-round concern.

More information:

The daily air quality forecast will continue to be available at: New Englanders can also sign up at this address to receive air quality alerts. These alerts are issued by email, whenever necessary, to notify program participants when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or small particles are predicted to occur, in their area.

Historical charts of unhealthy air days from 1983 through 2022 are available for each New England state on EPA New England’s website at: A preliminary list of the unhealthy readings recorded this summer by date and monitor location, and corresponding air quality maps for each day, can be found at:

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