October 3, 2018

EPA: Mass. had 28 unhealthy air days in 2018

There were 28 days with unhealthy air quality in New England during 2018, up from 25 in 2017, but Massachusetts residents experienced significantly fewer days with bad air quality, according to the federal government.

The Environmental Protection Agency said that since 1983 the region has experienced fewer days when ozone concentrations, which are more likely to form during hot summer days, have registered above levels considered healthy. In 1983, there were 118 unhealthy air quality days in New England, and 95 in Massachusetts. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of unhealthy air days per year in Massachusetts have totaled 4, 15, 11, 12 and 12 per year.

In the Northeast, average ozone levels have dropped by nearly 20 percent since the year 2000, according to the EPA, and emissions of nitrogen oxides – the key precursor to ozone – have dropped nationally by over 40 percent in the last decade.

"While we have made good progress reducing ozone pollution over the past several decades, more work needs to be done to ensure that people can enjoy good air quality, even during a hot and dry summer when conditions favor the formation of ground-level ozone," EPA Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn said in a statement. "EPA is continuing to take action to reduce ozone pollution, so we are optimistic that air quality will continue to improve in New England."

Much of the pollution that contributes to high ozone levels is generated from vehicles and power plants, pollution centers that continue to draw attention from policymakers interested in cleaner air and fighting climate change.

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