HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is expecting warm weather on Friday that may contribute to ozone levels that are Unhealthy Sensitive Group Levels (USG).

DEEP issued the warning for reduced air quality as many people will be outdoors to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.

“The very warm weather we are expecting tomorrow will also set the stage for ozone production and we are expecting elevated levels extending from southwest Connecticut, including all of Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, and Tolland Counties and the northern half of Middlesex County on Friday, ” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. 

DEEP shared that when air quality is forecasted to USG, there is an increase in the likelihood that individuals in sensitive groups will develop respiratory symptoms and may experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, according to a release from DEEP.

“Vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory diseases, and even healthy adults who spend prolonged periods outdoors working or exercising should take care to recognize the effects of both air pollution and heat and be prepared to curtail strenuous activity when our air quality is impaired,” said Dykes. 

The state suffers from poor air quality, due to its location at the “tailpipe of the nation,” according to DEEP. The state also struggles to reach the 2008 and 2015 standards for ozone which are necessary to protect residents from unhealthy air pollution, according to a release from DEEP. The New Haven, Middlesex, and Fairfield counties struggle to meet the EPA standards.

DEEP provided residents with tips to help reduce the contribution to local air pollution:

  • Drive Clean –consider purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. Learn more by visiting: www.driveelectricus.com and CHEAPR – Home (ct.gov)
  • Drive Less – consider carpooling, vanpooling, using public transit or even telecommuting; 
  • Reduce or Shift Energy Demand – purchase energy efficient products like ENERGY STAR® LED lights and ENERGY STAR® air conditioning, use programmable thermostats set to 78o or higher when no one is home, and use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers later in the day; 
  • Be Aware of Your Air -Understand the Air Quality Index and sign up to receive alerts so you will know when air quality is predicted to be unhealthy; and 
  • Small changes add up – When you know there will be an unhealthy air day-make small changes to your routine: 
  1. Refuel your vehicle after dusk and stop refueling when the nozzle clicks off, 
  2. Avoid idling your vehicle unnecessarily and keep tire pressures at their recommended level, 
  3. Delay mowing your lawn or using other lawn and garden equipment, 
  4. Limit your outdoor activity in the heat of the day, 
  5. Refrain from recreational wood burning;