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04/27/2015

DEP Announces Air Quality Awareness Week

Harrisburg, PA

Pennsylvania will join states across the nation this week in recognizing April 27 through May 1 as Air Quality Awareness Week.

“As we continue to feel the adverse impacts of air pollution, improving our air quality is more important than ever before,” Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley said. “This administration is committed to seeking solutions for improving air quality.”

In honor of Air Quality Awareness Week, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) asks Pennsylvanians to renew their commitment to protecting air quality and learning how air quality can impact public health and the environment.

Residents of Pennsylvania can take proactive steps, including the following, to improve air quality in the home and outside during the ozone season:
• Conserve electricity. During the summer, consider setting the thermostat a little higher so the air conditioner is not running continuously.
• Choose a cleaner commute by utilizing a car pool, public transportation, or riding a bike.
• Combine errands to reduce trips and “cold starts” of your car.
• Avoid idling motor vehicles.
• Ensure that tires are properly inflated to use less gasoline.
• Refuel vehicles in the evening and avoid topping off the gas tank when refueling vehicles.
• Limit lawn care and gardening activities that require the use of gasoline-powered equipment. 

As a result of air quality initiatives and the measures aimed at reducing emissions, cumulative air contaminant emissions across Pennsylvania have declined significantly. In particular, between 2008 through 2013, sulfur dioxide emissions from electric generating units (EGUs) have been reduced by approximately 70 percent. The emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have also been reduced by approximately 35 percent and 50 percent, respectively, from the EGU sector.

These reductions represent between $14 billion and $37 billion of annual public health benefits, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency methodologies.

Air Quality Awareness Week begins the 2015 ozone forecasting season in Pennsylvania. DEP monitors ambient ozone concentrations year-round and makes air quality forecasts for ground-level ozone during the spring and summer months. Fine particulate matter forecasts are provided year-round.

The daily forecasts, developed in conjunction with local Air Quality Partnerships, use a color-based Air Quality Index for air quality conditions. Green signifies good air quality; yellow means moderate conditions; orange represents pollution levels that could trigger health effects for sensitive people, such as the very young, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments; and red warns of pollution levels that could trigger health effects for all members of the population.

These forecasts are provided in cooperation 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.

To sign up to receive air quality forecasts via email, visit www.enviroflash.info.

For more information about air quality or the local partnerships, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Air Quality Awareness Week” banner at the top of the page, or call 717-787-9495.

MEDIA CONTACT: Amanda Witman, 717-787-1323

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