The Air Quality Partnership (AQP) is a public / private coalition dedicated to improving air quality in the Greater Philadelphia Region by providing air quality advisories and educating the public about air quality issues. The AQP is administered by theDelaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
The AQP provides air quality forecasts for ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Sign-up for air quality alerts, or check the forecast daily and take the proper actions to reduce pollution and protect your health.
Businesses, organizations, and individuals are welcome to contact the AQP or your local Transportation Management Association for tips and programs to help improve air quality in the Greater Philadelphia Region.
Air Pollution and Your Health
Air pollution can come from many different sources. Industry, power plants, cars, and trucks—as well as many consumer products—all contribute to poor air quality. This means that everyone—business and consumers—contribute to the problem. Since air currents can carry pollutants great distances, millions of people are impacted by air pollution, making it our region’s largest environmental health risk.
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors and sets national health-based standards for six common air pollutants (ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and lead).
The Greater Philadelphia Region does not meet the standards for two of these pollutants—ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution (PM2.5)—on approximately 20 days throughout the year. Most of these violations are for ozone during the summer months, but there are also days when the PM2.5 standard is violated throughout the year.
Ozone in the upper atmosphere protects us from the sun’s harmful rays where it plays an important role protecting life on earth (good ozone). At ground level, where people breathe, ozone can be harmful to lungs and the environment. In the summer, sunlight and heat can “bake” pollutants to form ground-level ozone, also known as smog.
Particle Pollution or PM
Particle pollution is the term for tiny drops of liquid or small bits of dust, metals, or other materials that float on the air. Some particles are large enough to see as soot or smoke. Other particles are so small that they can only be seen with an electron microscope. Particle pollution comes from a variety of natural and manmade sources such as cars, power plants, and forest fires.
Who is at Most at Risk?
Children - Children are at risk for several reasons. They spend more time outdoors, their lungs are still developing, and they breathe more air per pound of bodyweight than adults. Children not only have greater exposure to pollutants like ozone and particle pollution but those pollutants can exert greater impacts on developing lungs.
Elderly - Older people are more likely to suffer from heart and lung conditions. When air quality is poor, the elderly should take special precautions.
People with heart or lung diseases – Over 900,000 people in the Delaware Valley suffer from asthma, bronchitis, or other respiratory illness. Over 71 million Americans have some form of heart disease. This means that hundreds of thousands of people in our region are especially impacted by poor air quality.
Adults who exercise, work, or spend time outdoors – One of the largest sensitive groups is also one of the least likely to be aware that they are at risk. Cyclists, joggers, outdoor workers, or other adults who exert themselves outdoors are at risk of respiratory impairment when ground-level ozone or particle pollution concentrations are high.
Taking positive steps to improve air quality will help to reduce the health and economic impacts of air pollution. Think of clean air as preventative medicine on a regional scale.