Poor air quality expected in Maine on Wednesday

Unhealthful ground-level ozone concentrations are expected in Maine on Wednesday, prompting officials to issue an air quality alert.

The state Department of Environmental Protection released a statement Tuesday indicating that elevated ozone levels in mid-Atlantic states are expected to move into Maine Wednesday. Warm temperatures and little vegetation to absorb the ozone will result in concentrations that could affect some people.

“At elevated ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can experience reduced lung function and irritation,” DEP officials wrote in the release. “When this happens, [they] may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest.”

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in much of Maine are expected to reach the high 70s or even 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, with cooler temperatures further north and east along the coast. The weather service cautioned people to expect cold water temperatures if they head to the coast to escape the heat, however, as ocean temperatures remain in the mid- to upper 40s.

The air quality in northern Maine and coastal Washington County is expected to be least affected, according to DEP. Clouds and a chance of showers are possible in northern Maine, while winds Down East are expected to prevent “very high” ozone build-up, DEP officials said.

People in sensitive groups in the rest of the state are advised to take precautions, such as adjusting their schedules to avoid strenuous activity outside during the afternoon, when ozone levels are expected to be the highest.

More information is available online at the websites of DEP, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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