Area's air quality to worsen slightly over next few days

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Air pollutant levels in the Susquehanna Valley, including York County, will be slightly elevated Sunday and Monday, according to an air quality report from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 

Weather conditions Saturday, with a forecast for drier air because of a cold front moving through, will keep the air quality in the good range, the DEP forecast said. 

Sunday, things change slightly, as high pressure moves off to the east. With a more southerly air flow and a forecast high temperature of 87 degrees, air quality will deteriorate in the moderate range with ozone being the primary pollutant, the DEP forecast said. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react with each other in sunlight and hot temperatures. 

Diesel engines are a large contributor to the decline of air quality.  Bill Kalina - bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

The Air Quality Index for ozone Sunday is 66. The AQI runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. 

The air quality Sunday will be in the moderate range for ozone and particle pollution. Particle pollution — also called particulate matter (PM) — is made up of particles (tiny pieces) of solids or liquids that are in the air such as dust, dirt, soot and smoke. The AQI for particle pollution is 55 for Sunday. 

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The AQI for Sunday will be in the moderate or yellow range when air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. 

Monday’s AQI will also be in the yellow range with ozone at 55 and particle pollution at 52. 

Times of clouds and sunshine will make for a very warm and humid Monday. Air quality values will be less, but still in the moderate, or yellow, range as temperatures rise to around the 90-degree mark. 

A stronger cold front moving through late Tuesday will bring a better chance for showers and a thunderstorm, which should improve air quality. Cooler air will follow behind the front for the mid-week period, just in time for the arrival of September and air quality will improve to the good, or green, range. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has six levels to its AQI – green (good – 0-50), yellow (moderate – 51-100), orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups – 101-150), red (unhealthy – 151-200), purple (very unhealthy – 201-300) and maroon (hazardous- 301 and above). 

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter. 

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