Check Air Quality with AirNow.gov

Probably everyone in Pittsburgh has heard about the Google engineer who warned others not to move here due to poor air quality. Here’s a link to the original article in case you missed it: When better isn’t good enough: Why I tell my Google co-workers and industry peers to avoid Pittsburgh

If your patrons are now curious about the air quality in our area, direct them to AirNow.gov. Simply type in a zip code at the top of the page to receive the air quality index score (AQI) for the day, as well as tomorrow’s forecast. At the time of this writing (Thursday, January 16 at 3 pm), Pittsburgh’s AQI score is “Good” at 45 particle pollution:

CurrentConditions

Like the weather, this score changes hourly. At 2 pm, our score was “Moderate” at 54 particle pollution.

Here’s how AirNow.gov classifies the six levels of health concerns:

  • “Good” AQI is 0 to 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • “Moderate” AQI is 51 to 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
  • “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI is 101 to 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
  • “Unhealthy” AQI is 151 to 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
  • “Very Unhealthy” AQI is 201 to 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  • “Hazardous” AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warning of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

AirNow has a lot of detailed information that can help people better understand the science behind air pollution and how it relates to their health. It’s a great resource for anyone concerned about air quality in Pittsburgh and beyond.

-Sarah, Mt. Lebanon Public Library

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