The EPA and MassDEP advised people to take caution today. —Mia Vittimberga

Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection have issued air quality alerts for Wednesday, July 12.

Elevated ozone levels are predicted to impact air quality around Martha’s Vineyard, as well as the counties of Barnstable, Nantucket, southern Bristol, and southern Plymouth. Rhode Island and coastal Connecticut are also impacted.

Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung conditions, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infections.

The air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sensitive groups include people with heart or lung problems such as asthma, older adults, children, and teenagers.

People with heart disease or lung disease are at the highest risk in air pollution. 

According to the EPA, ground-level ozone occurs when “volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (ozone precursors) interact in the presence of strong sunshine.” 

The EPA also mentioned that poor-air-quality events are predicted to increase in frequency as climate change increases the likelihood of warmer weather.

MassDEP advised people in sensitive groups to watch for symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, reduce prolonged outdoor exertion, do less intense activities, and keep quick-relief medicine handy.

The EPA encouraged members of the public to help limit emissions on unhealthy air days by using public transportation when possible, reducing driving time, and avoiding usage of small gasoline-powered engines such as lawnmowers. It is also advised to reduce household energy usage by turning off unnecessary lights and appliances, and setting air conditioners to higher temperatures.

MassDEP’s air quality alert began at 11 am today and will be effective until 11 pm tonight. 

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