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Principal Pollutants

Automobiles, power plants, industry, etc., all contribute to today's air pollution problem. The principal pollutants from these activities, including carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide, can be particularly detrimental to the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Pennsylvania and the federal government have set concentration standards for these principal pollutants to protect the public's health and to prevent environmental damage. To ensure that areas of Pennsylvania attain these standards, the DEP monitors these principal pollutants.

Pollution Forecasts

  • Air Quality Partnership
    The Air Quality Partnership is a public/private coalition dedicated to improving air quality. This web site contains information on two of the most important pollutants found in Pennsylvania's air: ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Forecasts are made daily on the predicted levels of each pollutant.

Monitoring Ground-Level Ozone

Monitoring Data and Results

  • Air Quality Index
    The AQI reports on levels of five major air pollutants in your area: ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Reports are updated hourly at half-past the hour.
  • Current and Historical Pollution Levels and Weather
    Check out the current and past pollution levels in your area including weather parameters. The most current data is updated hourly at fifteen minutes past the hour. The Daily Site Detail report shows all parameters at a single site for any given day. The Monthly Parameter Detail report shows all data for a month at a time for a single site and parameter. The Parameter Comparison report displays all 1-hour data for a parameter at all sites by day. The Ranked Averages report allows you to show the maximum values for a parameter (including 8-hour and 24-hour averages for certain pollutants) at a site over a user defined time period. The Bureau of Air Quality uses "discrete" or manual method monitoring for three Criteria pollutants - Lead, PM2.5, and PM10. A discrete method is generally a "manual" method of sampling, most commonly using an air filter to trap air pollutants from ambient air for a defined, or "discrete" period of time.

2021 Ambient Air Monitoring Network Plan (AMP)

  • 2015 5-Year Ambient Air Monitoring Network Assessment
    As required by 40 CFR, Part 58.10(d), the department is required to conduct a network assessment once every five years to see "if the network meets the monitoring objectives defined in Appendix D to this part, whether new sites are needed, whether existing sites are no longer needed and can be terminated, and whether new technologies are appropriate for incorporation into the ambient air monitoring network." The next plan is due to EPA by July 1, 2020.
  • EPA's AIRNow
    EPA, state, and local agencies work together to report current and forecast conditions for ozone and particle pollution. AIRNow forecasts next-day air quality.

Other Information

  • Pennsylvania Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
    Provides information from state and national networks of health and environmental data that improves the public health of Pennsylvania communities. This includes:
    • Air quality
    • Drinking water quality
    • Hospitalization for asthma, heart attacks, heat stress and carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Carbon monoxide mortality
    • Housing age
    • Reproductive health outcomes
    • Cancer incidence
  • Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center
    As part of the Arboretum at Penn State, this center offers a balanced and research-based approach to educating the general public, school children, and University classes about air quality and its effects on native plants and trees.