AUGUSTA, Maine — Ground-level ozone concentrations are expected to reach unhealthy levels along the coast in Maine in the coming days, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP issued an air quality alert on Thursday afternoon warning that ozone levels would begin climbing Friday and continue through Sunday, causing potential health problems for children, adults working or exercising outside, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma or bronchitis. Affected individuals could experience shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation and chest tightness, among other symptoms.
The alert indicated that the highest ozone levels on Friday are expected along the midcoast and Down East coastal areas, and on Saturday along the southwest coast and midcoast regions.
“Additionally, particle pollution levels will also be rising and likely reach the moderate range for the southern portion of the state during the weekend,” according to the DEP press release.
An approaching low pressure system is expected to wash out the bad air by Monday.
According to the American Lung Association’s latest “State of the Air” report, released in April, Maine’s air is cleaner than in years past, but unhealthy air remains an issue for too many Mainers.
The DEP offers the following tips to avoid problems during the alert period:
— Avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon.
— If indoors, close windows and circulate indoor air with a fan or air conditioner.
— Avoid using aerosol products such as cleaners, paints, and other lung irritants.
The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma action plan forms and other information available at their web site: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat/index.htm.
More information on the air quality forecast is available online at: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/
DEP’s toll free air quality hotline is 1-800-223-1196.