Code Orange Air Quality Action Day declared for May 31st by PDEP due to Canadian wildfire

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has declared a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for fine particulate matter for Wednesday, May 31, 2023, for Montgomery County, along with Philadephia, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties. The issue is also expected to impact the Lehigh Valley-Berks and Susquehanna Valley areas.

According to the notice, an easterly wind is forecasted to transport smoke from a large wildfire in southern Nova Scotia that will likely contribute to daily average concentrations of fine particulate matter in the Code Orange range on Wednesday.

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 areas 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.