By Gary Thomas
Thursday, June 21 was observed as a code Orange air quality action day for ozone by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection and its related regional air quality partners for the regions in Susquehanna Valley and the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia.
A request was issued asking sensitive people (elderly, young children, and people with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis) who are susceptible to the effects of air pollution to limit outdoor activities on the air quality action days.
A standardized air quality index has been created by the department, which uses colors as codes to represent the daily air quality.
- Green symbolizes good
- Yellow means moderate
- Orange indicates unhealthy levels of pollution for sensitive people
- Red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for everyone.
On days when the weather is warm/hot, the pollution from vehicles, households, power plants and industries sort of "bakes" in the blazing sun forming what is known as ground-level ozone, which is the main constituent of smog. This results in breathing difficulty for some people.
The Department of Environmental Protection has listed out a few ways in which people can help in maintaining healthy air quality. They encouraged people to try and reduce pollution-causing activities by:
- Washing dishes and clothes only when the machines are full
- Carpool initiative, wherein people can combine chores and reduce trips
- Refuel cars and trucks after dusk