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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: November 19, 2012
CONTACT: Jeff Underhill (603) 271-1102
Sherry Godlewski (603) 271-6801

DES Declares Air Quality Action Day
Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels Predicted for Southwestern New Hampshire, November 19 into November 21

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is expecting air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals in populated valley areas in southwestern New Hampshire, especially in Keene, for the nights of Monday, November 19 and Tuesday, November 20 and ending during the late morning of Wednesday, November 21. DES officials are calling for an Air Quality Action Day for this period and advise sensitive individuals in these areas to take precautions to protect their health by limiting prolonged exertion. Sensitive individuals include children, older adults, and anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged activities.

DES forecasts concentrations of fine particle pollution to be unhealthy for sensitive individuals in the above-mentioned region. The expected unhealthy particle pollution levels are the result of locally emitted pollution stagnating under temperature inversion conditions. Temperature inversions occur during calm, cold nights when warm air above traps cold air below. Such events prevent pollution near the ground from mixing with cleaner air aloft and diluting. As a result ground level pollution concentrations can increase. Much of locally emitted pollution comes from heating devices, especially residential wood burning stoves and boilers. Communities located in valleys or other low-lying areas where temperature inversions are common are more strongly affected. Pollution levels may remain high Monday night into Wednesday morning; DES will issue additional advisories if needed.

The severity of the health effects increases as fine particle concentrations increase. Symptoms of particle pollution exposure for people with heart disease may include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue. People with asthma and other existing lung diseases may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as normal and may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. In addition to harmful health effects, fine particle pollution may create hazy conditions that reduce visibility.

For further information, contact DES at (603) 271-1370.  For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the DES website at www.airquality.nh.gov.

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