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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: December 20, 2019
CONTACTS: Jeff Underhill (603) 271-1102
Jim Martin (603) 271-3710

NHDES Declares Air Quality Action Days
Unhealthy Particle Air Pollution Advisory Issued for Friday Evening through Monday

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) is expecting concentrations of fine particle air pollution to reach levels that are unhealthy for sensitive individuals in populated valley areas in southwestern New Hampshire, especially Keene, Friday evening December 20 through Monday December 23. These conditions could persist into early next week and additional advisories will be issued if necessary. NHDES officials advise sensitive individuals (including children, older adults, and anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis) in these areas to take precautions to protect their health by limiting prolonged exposure and exertion, especially outdoors. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged activities. Concentrations of particles is expected to peak during overnight and morning hours.

The expected particle air pollution event is the result of combining low temperatures, calm winds (which limit air movement and inhibit dispersion), and pollution transported from surrounding areas. Much of this pollution is emitted from heating devices, especially residential wood-burning stoves and boilers. Communities located in valleys or other low-lying areas where temperature inversions are common are more strongly affected. If an alternative heating source is available, residents should consider postponing wood burning until winds increase and air quality improves.

The severity of the health effects increases as fine particle concentrations increase. Symptoms of particle pollution exposure may include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. People with asthma and other existing lung diseases may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as normal and may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.
For further information, contact NHDES at (603) 271-1370. For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the NHDES website at

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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