The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has declared a statewide Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for fine particulate matter July 17, 2023, in Pennsylvania.
Smoke from wildfires is expected to impact Pennsylvania air quality throughout and will likely contribute to daily average concentrations of fine particulate matter in the Code Orange range on Monday. Residents are encouraged to check airnow.gov for current conditions in their area.
Fine particulate matter (or PM-2.5) comes in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals. Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks, or fires. Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (called “precursors”), which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries, and automobiles.
On a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day, 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.
Residents and businesses within the Air Quality Action Day areas are strongly encouraged to voluntarily help reduce fine particulate matter air pollution by:
Avoiding the open burning of leaves, trash, and other materials; and
Avoiding the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI) provides standardized color codes for forecasting and reporting daily air quality. Green signifies good air quality; Yellow means moderate air quality; Orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive groups of people; and Red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all. An Air Quality Action Day is declared when the AQI is forecasted to be Code Orange or higher.