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Pennsylvania DEP, Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership Urge Public Transit Use
Date:7/2/2009

BETHLEHEM, Pa., July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With gasoline prices again climbing, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership said today that residents can save money and help avoid air quality action days by using mass transit.

"Public transportation offers a convenient, common-sense approach to reducing the smog-forming air pollution that can make it difficult for some people to breathe," said Keith Williams, partnership chair. "Also, with gasoline prices rising again during the summer driving months, opting for mass transit or carpooling makes economic sense, as well."

Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, is formed when pollution from vehicles, industry, consumer products and power plants "bakes" in the hot, summer sun, making it difficult for some people to breathe. Particulate matter, which is airborne dust or small soot particles, can also cause health problems for children or the elderly with respiratory problems, as well as the general population.

The goals of the Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership are to increase the public's understanding on the impact of air pollution, provide alerts on days with high air pollution, provide health effects information and guidelines to prevent or reduce exposure, and encourage voluntary actions to reduce air pollution emissions, especially on ozone action days, or days when the air is expected to be unhealthy to breathe.

The partnership, in conjunction with local media such as WFMZ-TV, disseminates information when action days are forecast for the region. Using DEP meteorological data, the partnership informs people about the predicted ozone levels and any precautions that need to be taken.

In addition, the partnership and DEP are releasing daily forecasts on air pollution caused by particulate matter, commonly called PM 2.5.

The Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership is a coalition of individuals, businesses, governments and community groups that educates the public about the dangers of ground-level ozone and particulate matter, and encourages people to take voluntary actions to reduce their contributions to air pollution.

"We appreciate the assistance and cooperation from partnership members, the Lehigh/Northampton Transportation Authority, WFMZ-TV and the residents of the Lehigh Valley in our combined efforts to improve the air quality and respiratory health in the region," said Williams.

For additional information on air quality issues, visit the department's Web site at www.depweb.state.pa.us, DEP Keyword: "Air Quality," or go directly to the partnership's homepage at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/aq_apps/aqpartners/default.asp. The partnership has also developed a Web site for detailed activities and cross links to other air quality related sites at www.lvbcair.org.

    CONTACT:  Mark Carmon
    (570) 826-2511


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
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