HARRISBURG — The state Department of Environmental Protection is forecasting a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for fine particulate matter on Friday for Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, the agency announced Thursday in a press release.
The Code Orange applies to Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, and York counties in Central PA and Berks, Lehigh, and Northampton counties in the Lehigh Valley, the DEP says.
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.
An air quality action day, which is determined based on the forecasted air quality index, means air pollutants are at unhealthy levels for vulnerable populations, the DEP says. 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, according to the DEP.
Meteorological conditions on Friday will become very favorable for particulate matter to rise across the affected areas, the DEP says. A departing area of high pressure will provide very light winds across the region. These light winds, in combination with warmer air building aloft, will allow a strong inversion to form across areas just east of the Appalachian Mountains.
As a result, the mixing of air near the surface will be limited, allowing the particles to become trapped near the surface and rise into the Code Orange range, the DEP says. Air quality will improve greatly Friday night into Saturday as an approaching storm system from the west will increase the winds and rain chances across the region.
To help keep the air healthy, residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily restrict certain pollution-producing activities by limiting the use of wood stoves/fireplaces in the overnight hours, setting thermostats to a lower temperature, and carpooling or using public transportation, according to the DEP.
For more information, visit www.dep.pa.gov.