Officials Urge Residents with Breathing Problems to Take Care During Air Quality Alerts

Aug 7, 2018


There's an air quality alert today that includes Barnstable County and Duke's County. Morning Edition producer Hayley Fager spoke with Ed Coletta, the spokesperson for the Massachusetts department of environmental protection to learn what people can do to stay safe.


Fager: Ed, I've seen that there's an air quality alert today. What causes these changes in ozone?

Coletta: Well, it's really an issue of kind of two things. It's the heat and humidity that bubble up during the day, you know with the heat and the sunlight because high level of ozone. There are also issues of transport of pollutants coming from other areas downwind of us here in New England.

So, the Midwest, sometimes the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, you know also have pollutants that are given off during the day. And the southwest winds tend to blow those into New England.That along with the sunlight and the buildup of ozone really to cause problems for us here on certain days like this.

Fager: Why is it important; why can this hurt people?

Coletta: There's an air quality alert for sensitive groups, and so that includes people with heart or lung disease, such as asthma, or older adults, children, people who are active outdoors. Anybody obviously with lung disease at a greater risk for exposure to ozone and people either with lung disease or heart disease also have a greater risk for exposure. So, we want to make sure that folks know that, and they can adjust their outside activities to stay out of the bad air that might be out there in their area.

Fager: And what can people do if they do have to stay outside? What can people do to minimize the impact of the air quality on their health?

Coletta: Well, I mean obviously trying to take it easy as much as possible. It's best that they try and stay indoors, if at all possible, in a cool area. We want to alert people that this is coming, and they may want to take precaution.

Fager: Well, Ed Coletta, thanks so much for taking the time to talk and really appreciate it.

Coletta: All right. Have a good day.

This transcript has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.