Unhealthy air quality days increased in 2007

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(Host) New England saw an increase in poor air quality days this past summer, but the Environmental Protection Agency says the states have come a long way toward cleaner air.

Vermont saw only one unhealthy ozone day in 2007. That gave the state the distinction of having the cleanest air in the region. In 2006 there were no unhealthy ozone days.

David Deegan of the EPA says Vermont’s small population drives fewer vehicles and supports less industry, contributing to less ozone-polluting emissions.

Deegan says the small increase can be attributed to hot weather:

(Deegan) Basically with some of the summertime weather that we experienced with hot days and stagnant air, the sun bakes down on emissions coming up from industry and vehicles and that’s actually what creates ground level ozone.

(Host) Deegan says fluctuations from year to year are important, but long-term observation shows that air quality programs put into place over the past 20 years have paid off:

(Deegan) As an example throughout all of New England in 1983 we experienced 90 days of unhealthy smog or unhealthy ozone, and that’s compared with 26 days this past summer.

(Host) Deegan says that the region is not only doing better, but doing better under stricter air quality standards.

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