Over the past couple of weeks, we have experienced exceptionally hot days here in Maine. However, this summer heat isn’t just uncomfortable. It’s also part of a trend with potentially lethal health impacts.

2015 was the hottest year on record, and the previous hottest year was 2014. In fact, each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any decade on record. Higher temperatures increase the chances that ozone pollution will form, putting those with respiratory conditions, children and the elderly at risk.

Just recently, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued an air quality alert for the coastal regions of Maine. The American Lung Association’s State of the Air report shows areas like Cumberland County, York County and the coastal regions experience the highest ozone levels in the state.

Days like Aug. 11 and 12 can be dangerous, especially in a state like Maine where we have above-average asthma rates and an aging population. The question is: How can we turn this trend around?

Since the implementation of the Clean Air Act, we have made great strides in cleaning up the air that we breathe. However, there is much more to be done. Nationally, we must call on our legislators to protect the Clean Air Act and implement the new 2015 ozone standards. Stronger standards at the federal level mean cleaner, healthier air for Mainers back home.

Matthew Sturgis