air quality

The Department of Environmental Management has issued an air quality alert for Tuesday.  DEM forecaster, Darren Austin says ozone levels are expected to reach unhealthy territory this afternoon and this evening.

“So what that means is that really people should try to take it easy,” said Austin. “You don’t want to be outside exercising vigorously. Sensitive groups, you could feel the effects of this if you’re outside today breathing this air and asthmatic, but really on alert days, everyone can be impacted.”

Asthma rates in Rhode Island are above the national average, according to a Brown University professor who testified before a Senate subcommittee hearing focused on air quality standards. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza has more details.

The hearing focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to strengthen the air quality standard for ozone, the main pollutant in smog linked to asthma, heart disease, and premature death, from the present standard of 75 parts per million down to a range of 65 to 70 parts per million.  

Rhode Island is in good shape to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce emissions from power plants, according to scientists with the Department of Environmental Management.

The EPA’s proposed plan is to cut emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and an additional 5 percent by 2030. It’s using emissions from 2005 as a baseline. The DEM’s supervising air quality specialist Frank Stevenson said the plan takes into consideration existing regional initiatives to cut carbon pollution. And that’s good news.

Every Rhode Island county with an air quality monitoring device had slightly more smoggy days this year compared to last year, according to a report issued this year by the American Lung Association. The state will likely see those smoggy days dwindle in the future.

Wikimedia Commons

For your lungs, some good news and some let's-hope-it's-better-this-time news. 

RIPR File Photo

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will no longer offer free bus rides on days with poor air quality. RIPTA is ending the program, because the agency doesn’t have money to support it this year.

RIPTA has offered free rides on days with poor air quality since 1995, according to Amy Pettine, the agency’s director of planning and marketing. It has been a longtime partner with the departments of health, transportation, and environmental management in issuing alerts for poor air quality days.

Westerly’s Zoning Board is circling back to a cease and desist order against Copar and Westerly Granite. Tuesday's hearing picks up where the zoning board left off earlier this year.

Residents near Copar’s quary say it’s noisy and spews rock and dust into the air, causing health risks. Copar says the noise is no louder than a busy road.

Meanwhile, Copar and the Town of Westerly are locked in a lawsuit that the former town manager was hoping would be resolved in mediation.