Reducing Air Pollutants


Air pollution is all around and it affects everyone. The average adult breathes more than 3,000 gallons of air every day. Children breathe even more air per pound of body weight and are more susceptible to air pollution. In addition, those with sensitivities or allergies, the elderly, people with heart and lung disease or those who exercise outside, face problems when air quality pollutants rise beyond health standards.


Ozone — good up high, bad nearby

So, what is the ozone? The ozone in the stratospheric ozone layer protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. But at the ground level, where we breathe, it creates problems. From May to September, sunlight and high temperatures bake pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, power plants, industry and other sources to form smog, or ground level ozone.

Short-term exposure to high levels of ozone irritates the lung’s airways causing inflammation. It can aggravate asthma and bronchitis and increase hospital admissions.


Particle pollution is tiny drops of liquid or small particles of dust, metals, and other material that float in the air. Some particles are dark or large enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that they can only be detected with an electron microscope.

It comes from a variety of sources such as cars, diesel engines, power plants, industry, construction, forest fires, open burning and wood combustion.

Although a year-round problem, particle pollution levels spike during high ground-level ozone days in the summer and during the winter and fall when woodstoves and fireplaces are in use.


The Air Quality Partnership forecasts “Air Quality Action Days” — days when the air is expected to be unhealthy to breathe. Receive free real-time air pollution alerts throughout the year via e-mail. It’s the best way to learn about the air quality in your area. Find out more about the Air Quality Partnership and air quality in your area.

To obtain hourly air quality data for Allegheny County call 412-578-8179.