Friday, January 15, 2010

Air Quality Action Day Forecast In 3 PA Regions For Saturday

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast an unusual winter time air quality action day for Saturday, January 16, in the Liberty/Clairton, Susquehanna Valley, and Lehigh Valley/Berks regions.
The Liberty/Clairton region in southeastern Allegheny County includes Clairton, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue boroughs. The Susquehanna Valley region includes Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties, while the Lehigh Valley/Berks region includes Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties.
The air quality forecast predicts Friday will be code ORANGE for particulate matter. 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.
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 can 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 hear and lung disease, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, and decreased lung function.
The particles come from a wide range of sources – from power plants, industry, cars, trucks, buses, wood stoves and forest fires. Some particles are released when fuels are burned; others form in the atmosphere from reactions between gases released from power plants and factories.
On air quality action days, young people, the elderly and people with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.
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 – turn 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.

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