Code Orange Doubleheader

The weather is playing a doubleheader in the Pittsburgh region this weekend, with Sunday being the second of back- to- back CODE ORANGE weather alerts.

Code Orange days cause problems for young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory issues like asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. According to Allegheny Health Network’s Dr. Brian Lamb, “It can trigger their symptoms and so, they may notice that they’re wheezing a little bit more, they may notice that it’s a little bit hard for them to take deep full breaths. A lot of times, you know, the particulate matter in the air could be a trigger for some people, and they may find that they’re using their rescue inhalers more often on weather condition days like this.” according to Dr. Lamb.

He went on to share this advice:

“The best advice is actually to try to stay inside during the hottest part of the day, you actually want to, if you can stay in air conditioned rooms, you should stay there. If not, if you’re going to be outside try to limit how long you’re going to be outside, and really the best time to be outside doing anything such as mowing lawn, working in the yard, anything like that is actually in the evenings as everything starts to cool down. As the air cools down it gets actually the quality goes up a little bit.”

Everyone can help reduce the impact of Code Orange days by doing the following things:
  • Combining errands to reduce trips.
  • Setting your air conditioning a bit higher.
  • Refueling after dusk.
  • Limit engine idling.
According to the Center for Disease Control or CDC:

Air Pollution

“Climate change is projected to harm human health by increasing ground-level ozone and/or particulate matter air pollution in some locations. Ground-level ozone (a key component of smog) is associated with many health problems, such as diminished lung function, increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for asthma, and increases in premature deaths.

Factors that affect ozone formation include heat, concentrations of precursor chemicals, and methane emissions. Particulate matter concentrations are affected by wildfire emissions and air stagnation episodes, among other factors. By increasing these different factors, climate change is projected to lead to increased concentrations of ozone and particulate matter in some regions. Increases in global temperatures could cause associated increases in premature deaths related to worsened ozone and particle pollution.

Estimates that assume no change in regulatory controls or population characteristics have ranged from 1,000 to 4,300 additional premature deaths nationally per year by 2050 from combined ozone and particle health effects. Less certainty exists about the responses of airborne particles to climate change than the response of ozone. Health-related costs of the current effects of ozone air pollution exceeding national standards have been estimated at $6.5 billion (in 2008 U.S. dollars) nationwide, based on a U.S. assessment of health impacts from ozone levels during 2000–2002.”


One year ago, Clean Air Task Force and Earthworks launched the Oil and Gas Threat Map:

Using the SMOGGY DAYS ALERTS through the Oil and Gas Threat Map, you can sign- up for alerts. The website continues with this:

Protect your health from oil & gas

Ozone smog is harmful to public health, and oil and gas production’s pollution contributes to its formation, sometimes many miles from where the production occurs. Sign up for the Smoggy Days tool to learn when ozone pollution is high in your oil and gas-impacted region and easily tweet and contact regulators with that info. This new tool simultaneously increases public awareness of the problem and makes it easy for users to increase pressure on regulators to do something about it. Air pollution from oil and gas facilities significantly increases ozone levels in many regions of the country, highlighted in the map below:

You can see from their map that air pollution from oil and gas facilities significantly increases ozone levels in our Pittsburgh tri-state area of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this situation is likely to worsen as thousands more unconventional wells are drilled, requiring more air polluting compressor stations and gas processing facilities.
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