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Why We All Should Care About Air Quality

ByDelaware Valley Regional Planning Commission WPVI logo
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Andrew Svekla, DVRPC

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Warmer weather ushers in more outdoor activities and all the fun-filled days summer brings.

But the spring and summer also bring episodes of poor air quality to the Greater Philadelphia region.

Spencer Gober, DVRPC

Unlike the ozone layer in the atmosphere, ground-level ozone is bad for our lungs when inhaled, and especially harmful to older adults with reduced lung capacity and children, whose lungs are still developing.

Those with existing respiratory conditions are also more susceptible to lung damage from summer air pollution. See who's most at risk here.

The good news is that we can all take positive actions to protect our family's lung health and to reduce those harmful pollutants in the first place.

  • Check the daily forecast. Every day the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) publishes an air quality forecast that is color-coded to communicate the day's levels of air pollution. The forecast follows the common "green is good", "yellow is moderate", "orange is a warning", and "red is unhealthy" color scheme. (There can even be an occasional, very serious Code Purple day!) You can follow the daily air forecast or sign up for free text or email alerts at www.AirQualityPartnership.org.

  • Take action to protect your health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published recommendations on how to protect yourself and your family's lungs when outdoor air is expected to be unhealthy. The CDC recommendations also offer suggestions on how to exercise safely outside when the air quality is poor.

  • Avoid unnecessary car trips whenever possible - take transit or share a ride to work or a common destination.

  • If you must drive:

- try to link" your errands to avoid cold starts - and don't idle.

- refuel early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperature is lower, and don't "top off" your tank

- keep your tires properly inflated

  • Postpone mowing the lawn with a gas-powered mower and avoid using your fire pit until the air improves.

  • Try to combine or bundle online orders so fewer deliveries are needed.

Practicing these simple steps on bad air quality days turn into good habits that improve the air we breathe every day, all year long. Being aware daily of outdoor air quality, and sharing this information with family members, co-workers, and your community, is a great step towards protecting your family's health and the environment.

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