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January 12. 2013 4:49PM

High pollution levels prompt health warnings for Keene area

CONCORD — For the second time in five days, the state Department of Environmental Services is warning residents of southwestern New Hampshire that air pollution concentrations may reach unhealthy levels.

DES officials have issued an Air Quality Action Day for Saturday night into Sunday morning, advising sensitive individuals to take precautions and limit prolonged exertion.

DES forecasts concentrations of fine particle pollution at unhealthy levels in southwestern valley areas,including Keene.

Sensitive individuals include children, older adults and anyone with heart or lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged activities, officials said.

The expected pollution levels are the result of locally emitted pollution — much of it from heating devices such as residential wood-burning fireplaces, stoves and boilers — stagnating under temperature inversion conditions. These inversions occur during calm, cold nights when warm air above traps cold air below.

As a result, ground-level pollution concentrations can increase.

Conditions are expected to improve by Sunday evening as wind speeds increase, resulting in better mixing and cleaner air, DES advised.

DES issued a similar warning for an even broader swath of New Hampshire last Tuesday night into Wednesday.
For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, visit www.airquality.nh.gov.






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