State DEP issues Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for midstate counties

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) for the following counties through Tuesday: Allegheny, Butler, Westmoreland, Armstrong, Fayette, Beaver, Washington, Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, York, Lebanon, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester.

Fine particulate levels rose faster than expected over the past weekend due to much warmer air coming in aloft and at the surface along with much lighter surface winds.  A strong inversion, when colder air is trapped below a warm air mass, with near calm winds and increased weekday emissions Monday will bring air quality for PM2.5 into the Code Orange range. This pattern will hold until Tuesday, when a cold front is expected to pass through. The front will pass the western part of the state tomorrow morning, then through eastern areas early tomorrow afternoon. The increasing mixing resulting from the frontal passage will bring air quality down to the moderate range on average during the day Tuesday.

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.

To help keep the air healthy, residents and business are encouraged to voluntarily restrict certain pollution-producing activities by:

  • Refueling cars and trucks after dusk
  • Reducing use of wood stoves and other sources of fine particulate matter
  • Carpooling or using public transportation
  • Combining errands to reduce trips.

These forecasts are provided in conjunction with Air Quality Partnerships for the Pittsburgh, Liberty-Clairton, Lehigh Valley, Susquehanna Valley, and Southeastern PA areas.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

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