The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast an air quality action day for Thursday, June 9, in three of Pennsylvania's forecasting regions.
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 air quality forecast predicts Thursday to be code ORANGE for ozone in the Susquehanna Valley, Lehigh Valley/Berks and Philadelphia regions. The air quality forecast also predicts Thursday will be code ORANGE for fine particulate matter in the Susquehanna Valley and Lehigh Valley/Berks regions.
The Susquehanna Valley region includes Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. The Lehigh Valley/Berks region includes Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties. The Philadelphia region includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
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.
Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, forms during warm weather when pollution from vehicles, industry, households and power plants "bakes" in the hot sun, making it hard for some people to breathe.
Fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, about one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair. These particles can get deep into the lungs and cause significant health problems. PM 2.5 has been determined to be most closely associated with health effects related to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for heart and lung disease, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, and decreased lung function.
To help keep the air healthy, residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily limit certain pollution-producing activities by taking the following steps: Ride the bus or carpool to work; Wash dishes and clothes only with full loads; and Save energy by turning off unused lights in your home.
These forecasts are provided in conjunction with the Air Quality Partnership of the Delaware Valley, the Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership, the Lehigh Valley/Berks Air Quality Partnership and the Susquehanna Valley Air Quality Partnership.
For more information, visit the Air Quality Partnership webpage.