City Cast

How To Monitor Pittsburgh’s Air Quality

Francesca Dabecco
Francesca Dabecco
Posted on July 18
Hazy sunrise in Pittsburgh.

Hazy sunrise in Pittsburgh. (StushD80 / Getty)

Wildfires burning in Canada’s northern boreal forests have brought smoke to Pittsburgh unlike we’ve ever seen before — and we know that the air quality here already isn’t great. Here’s how to monitor the air and protect yourself:

Understand Pollution

Breathing in particle pollution from fine particulates (PM2.5) can increase the risk of health problems like heart disease and asthma. Fine particulates can come directly from a source, such as fire, construction sites, and smokestacks, or form in the atmosphere from pollutants emitted from power plants, automobiles, and industrial manufacturing.

Yesterday’s air quality report for Pittsburgh via the Environmental Protection Agency. (AirNow)

Yesterday’s air quality report for Pittsburgh via the Environmental Protection Agency. (AirNow)

Check Air Quality

Search your zip code on the AirNow tool, and see how the air is categorized on the EPA’s Air Quality Index, a six-tier, color-coded scale representing different levels of pollution. It’s measured from 0 to 500, and higher values indicate greater air pollution; anything above 100 is unhealthy.

📍 Get a closer look at the monitors near you or view recent trends in the air quality.

🔥 If you want to track the smoke from wildfires, use this New York Times radar map.

Trust Your Nose

If it smells bad outside, it could mean that you’re inhaling toxins. Report foul odors, and track other reports in the community with the Smell Pittsburgh app.

Keep Yourself Safe

If EPA’s Air Quality Index indicates unhealthy air, close your windows, limit time outdoors, and run air filters to avoid the toxins. Here’s how to make a DIY air purifier.

🎧 Listen to more about Pittsburgh’s pollution problems and why the city sometimes smells like rotten eggs. [City Cast Pittsburgh]

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