Orange air quality alert issued as people celebrate Juneteenth

Monday is Juneteenth and celebrations are expected to draw big crowds outdoors to mark the holiday. Some folks, however, are urged to take precautions after an air-quality alert was issued for much of the state on Monday.

Sunday, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) declared a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for several counties, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland.

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Code orange air quality alert issued parts of our area

“I would definitely limit my time outside for sure,” said 19-year-old Tyler Cleveland.

The warning comes as the smoke from Canada’s wildfires continues to linger.

The Code Orange is one level below the Code Red that Pittsburgh saw nearly two weeks ago when the skies were dangerously hazy. With the unhealthy air conditions, young children, seniors and those with breathing problems, such as asthma or bronchitis, are urged to limit their time outside and to not overdo it.

Mike Parkinson is a public health physician who says people should be taking these alerts seriously.

“Even though it seems harmless, very fine particles can lodge in your lungs and induce things like asthma and pulmonary disease,” Parkinson said.

The same precautions go for pets too.

Parkinson said everyone needs to do their part to work toward solutions.

“There are no borders, there are no fences for air pollution, or for that matter, water pollution,” he said. “Being aware locally in Pittsburgh, what we have to do to keep the air clean but also becoming more engaged - civically, politically.”

With so many people expected to come out to Market Square Monday Juneteenth celebrations all day and fireworks at night, experts suggest wearing a high-quality mask. State officials also recommend trying to stay indoors and to keep your windows closed.

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