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UPDATED: DEP Declares Ozone Action Day for Thursday, Allegheny County Health Dept. Says No Open Burning or Outside Fires Permitted

Editor’s Note: This blog was updated at 10:14 a.m. Thursday, July 9 to include additional information sent out by the Allegheny County Health Department through an Alert.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership have declared Thursday, July 9 an Air Quality Action Day for ozone covering all of southwestern Pennsylvania.

An Alert relaying this information issued by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) stated that “(a)n Air Quality Action Day is called when ground-level ozone and/or fine particulates are expected to exceed national health-based standards and may cause breathing problems for the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with heart or respiratory disease.

ACHD guidance states that “(o)pen burning and outdoor fires are NOT allowed in Allegheny County” when an Air Quality Action Day is declared.

In addition, GASP and ACHD urge the public to protect themselves and their neighbors by helping to reduce air pollution during these declared Air Quality Action Days through voluntarily limiting pollution-producing activities, such as:

  • Limit daytime driving. Combine trips when possible.
  • Use public transit or rideshare.
  • Walk or bicycle for short trips.
  • Avoid prolonged idling and jackrabbit starts.
  • Don’t refuel. If you must, do so after 7 p.m.
  • Refuel carefully. Don’t top off your tank.
  • Postpone mowing the lawn until after 7 p.m.
  • Use latex instead of oil-based paint.
  • Save energy. Wash dishes and clothes with full loads.
  • Keep window shades/blinds closed during the day to cut down on air conditioning.

Unfortunately, Allegheny County exceeded the national health-based standards three times already this week, according to initial data. ACHD earlier this week announced that preliminary data showed that three ozone monitors in the county – in Harrison, Lawrenceville, and South Fayette – experienced exceedances of the eight-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) on Monday.

A GASP analysis of Allegheny County Health Department’s hourly air quality data indicates there was also an exceedance of the ozone standard at the Harrison monitor on Tuesday.

Wednesday marked the third day in a row that ozone concentrations in Allegheny County exceeded the NAAQS limit, with preliminary data showing that the ozone concentration at both the Lawrenceville and Harrison monitoring sites from 12p – 8p was 0.071 ppm.

ACHD on Thursday morning distributed an Alert that confirmed those exceedances. It read:

ACHD has preliminary information that the Harrison ozone monitor had an exceedance of the 8-hour NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) on Tuesday, July 7 (.077) and Wednesday, July 8 (.071), and the Lawrenceville ozone monitor had an exceedance on Wednesday, July 8 (.071). The 8-hour standard is .070 parts per million.

A reminder that today is a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for ozone and there is the potential for additional ozone exceedances. Also, open burning and outdoor fires are NOT permitted today.

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