Code Orange in effect for poor air quality in Philadelphia region

Mike DeNardo
February 04, 2019 - 12:15 pm
Emissions rise out of a large smoke stack at Pacificorp's 1000 megawatt coal fired power plant on October 9, 2017 outside Huntington, Utah.

George Frey/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Monday marks the second day of a Code Orange air quality alert in the region.

The warmer temperatures outside may feel nice, but children, the elderly and people with respiratory issues should limit their time outside because of the air quality. 

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has issued the alert for high levels of particulates trapped in the air by what's called an inversion.

"That colder air is down below and you have almost like a lid on our region," explained Sean Greene, DVRPC air quality programs manager. Ground-level cold air is preventing warm air from sweeping the particulates away. "Our local pollutants — the fine particles from our vehicles, from our trucks, from our home heating oil and those kinds of things — are building up in the area because that air column isn't mixing."

Code Orange alerts are more common in the summer for high ozone levels. They're unusual in the winter.  

This Code Orange has been in effect for two days, but Greene expects the air quality to return to moderate levels by Tuesday.