AUGUSTA, MAINE, May 3, 2024 — While Maine has some of the best air quality in the nation, there are still pollutants like ground-level ozone and small particles that can harm the heart and lungs. This is especially important to remember during National Air Quality Awareness Week, which runs from May 6 to May 10, 2024. Ozone is produced when sunlight and warmer temperatures create chemical reactions with pollutants emitted by various sources.  Particle Pollution is produced from both natural and man-made processes and include things such as dust, soil, soot, smoke and sea salt. Maine’s peak ozone levels occur during the warmer summer months, while particle pollution levels are higher mostly during the summer and winter months. Tuesday, May 7, is also World Asthma Day. In recent years, Maine has seen an increase in smoke from wildfires in the western United States and Canada.  When wildfires create smoky conditions, there are things you can do, indoors and out, to reduce your exposure to smoke. Reducing exposure is important for everyone’s health — especially children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.

•Have enough medication and food (enough for more than 5 days) on hand.
•Follow your health care provider’s advice about what to do if you have heart or lung disease.
•If you have asthma, follow your asthma management plan.
•If you feel sick, reduce your exposure to smoke and contact your health care provider.
•Pay attention to public service announcements, health advisories, and air quality advisories.

Maine DEP forecasts Ozone and Particle Pollution year-round which is available on DEP’s website, via toll free hotline, EnviroFlash emails and text messages. Forecasts are issued using a color-based Air Quality Index created by EPA. Green – good; Yellow – moderate; Orange – unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people and Red – unhealthy pollution levels for all.
While sensitive people may feel the impacts sooner or at lower levels when the air is in the unhealthy for sensitive groups (USG) or higher category, everyone should think about ways to reduce their exposure. Please take some time to think about how you contribute to air pollution and what you can do to make a positive difference. Here are a few ways to help reduce air pollution in your community especially, on days when the air quality is expected to be unhealthy:

•Conserve electricity
•Choose a cleaner commute by carpooling or using public transportation where available
•Combine errands, reduce trips
•Defer the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment until early evening hours
•Limit idling
•Refuel vehicles after dusk
•Use environmentally friendly paints and cleaning products

For more information about Air Quality visit Maine DEP’s website at

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