The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Westport registered six unhealthy air quality days this summer.
In a preliminary report on air quality for the region, the EPAs New England office said its monitor at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport registered six days in June, July, and August when average particle levels exceeded healthy standards.
The New England region as a whole registered 14 unhealthy days this summer, down from 36 the previous year.
This map shows unhealthy air quality on June 26, the day Westport had its worst air quality reading this summer. Yellow is moderate, orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups, red is unhealthy, and maroon is very unhealthy. EPA graphic
The EPA said the decrease in the number of days with unhealthy ozone this year was directly related to the decrease in the number of hot days this year.
The agency said ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog, is unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.08 parts per million over an eight-hour period.
The Westport monitor exceeded those amounts on June 25 (0.112), June 26 (0.113), June 27 (0.093), July 4 (0.108), July 26 (0.091), and Aug. 21 (0.097).
The EPA said the long-term trend in the number of unhealthy days in New England is downward and peak ozone concentrations have significantly decreased over the last 30 years.
Meanwhile, the EPA said that it will now issue its daily alerts for smog and soot pollution year-round, not just in the summer.
And it has added six areas in Connecticut, including Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, New London-Groton and Torrington, for which individual alerts will be issued.
The EPA hopes its expanded “air quality index” becomes as popular and widely used as the statements from the National Weather Service.
The expanded forecasts for both smog and soot, or particle pollution, will help millions of people – especially those with heart or lung disease, older adults and children – protect their health, EPA Acting Administrator Marianne Horinko said.
They will be posted daily on an EPA Web site with color-coded forecasts.