DEP Issues a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day Forecast

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HARRISBURG — The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast a Code Orange air quality action day for particle pollution on Thursday January 7, 2016 for Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties.

On air quality action days, young children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standardized air quality index uses colors to report daily air quality. Green signifies good; yellow means moderate; orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people; and red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all.

On Thursday, the combination of light winds at the surface (that will persist through much of the day) , elevated moisture levels in the boundary layer, and warmer air building back over our area will lead to elevated particle pollution.  The influx of warm air aloft and clear skies during the morning hours will lead to the development of a surface inversion.  The surface inversion will inhibit vertical mixing, keeping surface winds at a minimum and thus increasing low level (near the surface) particle pollution concentrations.
To help keep the air healthy, residents and business are encouraged to voluntarily restrict certain pollution-producing activities by:

  • Limiting the use of wood stoves in the overnight hours;
    • Setting thermostats to a lower temperature
    • Carpooling or using public transportation; and
    • Combining errands to reduce trips.

These forecasts are provided in conjunction with Susquehanna Valley Air Quality Partnership.