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UPDATED: DEP Declares Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for Fine Particulate Matter Liberty-Clairton Saturday; ACHD Issues Mon Valley Air Pollution Watch

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:12 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5 to include information about tomorrow’s Mon Valley Air Pollution Watch.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today declared a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for fine particulate matter for Saturday, Nov. 6. In addition, the Allegheny County Health Department issued a Mon Valley Air Pollution Watch.

For those who might not be aware: The Liberty-Clairton Area of Allegheny County includes Clairton City, Glassport Borough, Liberty Borough, Lincoln Borough, and Port Vue Borough.

Here’s what the DEP press release said:

A strong temperature inversion and calm wind Saturday morning will likely contribute to a daily average concentration of fine particulate matter in the Code Orange range. The highest hourly average concentrations of fine particulate matter are most likely to occur Saturday between 3:00 AM and 10:00 AM.

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. On an 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 area are strongly encouraged to voluntarily help reduce fine particulate matter air pollution by: 

  • Reducing or eliminating fireplace and wood stove use;
  • Avoiding the open burning of leaves, trash, and other materials; and
  • Avoiding the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Here’s what the Allegheny Alert related to the Mon Valley Air Pollution Watch said:

An Air Pollution Watch has been issued for the Mon Valley. The forecast for the next 24-hours indicates that the PM2.5 levels will likely exceed the 24-hour standard for the Mon Valley.

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 during this time.

Companies contributing to pollution can contribute by temporarily reducing activities that produce emissions.

More information about fine particulate matter (PM2.5), as well as the current monitored values can be found at: https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Programs/Air-Quality/Air-Quality.aspx

The Mon Valley was also plagued by unhealthy air Friday, with AirNow.gov listing the Liberty-Clairton area as having the worst NowCast Air Quality Index (AQI). The area also experienced another exceedance of the 24-hour state H2S standard.

You can read more about that here.

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