Concord, NH – Air pollution concentrations are expected to reach unhealthy levels in the southern half of the state on Sunday, June 18th. The specific areas affected are Belknap, Sullivan, Merri-mack, Strafford, Cheshire, Hillsborough and Rockingham counties. In addition, unhealthy air is forecast at elevations above 3000 feet in the North Country on Sunday. State officials are calling for an Air Quality Action Day on Sunday and advise all individuals – especially active children and adults, and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis – to take precautions to protect their health.
This is the first Air Quality Action Day issued in 2006 for New Hampshire. Typically, the state experi-ences ten days per year when air pollution reaches unhealthy levels.
The NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) expects concentrations of ground-level ozone, the main component of smog and the most prevalent air pollutant during the summer season, to be unhealthy throughout southern New Hampshire on Sunday. In addition, concentrations of small particles are expected to be at moderate levels both days throughout the state. These particles may reduce visibility and can cause adverse health effects in people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Unhealthy air quality may continue into Monday but conditions are expected to improve later in the day on the 19th as a shift in wind direction and an increased chance of precipitation should result in cleaner air quality statewide. Additional advisories will be issued as needed if conditions worsen.
Active children and adults (including hikers in the North Country) and people with respiratory disease who live in the regions specified above should avoid prolonged outdoor activity. Even individuals with healthy respiratory systems may experience mild symptoms of lung irritation at higher ozone levels and should limit strenuous or prolonged outdoor activities. Time spent outdoors should be limited during afternoon and early evening hours when ozone levels are highest.
Greater numbers of people are affected as ozone levels climb and the severity of the health effects also in-creases as the level of ozone rises. Symptoms of ozone exposure include coughing, wheezing, chest tight-ness or pain when inhaling deeply, and shortness of breath. If symptoms do not improve immediately after stopping exercise or moving indoors, people should contact their health care provider since other serious conditions can cause similar symptoms.
For further information about potential adverse health effects from ozone exposure, contact DES at (603) 271-4664. For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the DES Web site at www.airquality.nh.gov.