Initial Air Quality Results: Lackawanna Fire

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says that the latest air monitoring data reveals air quality around the site of the massive Bethlehem Steel fire has returned to "baseline levels."

More good news: the DEC said Friday in a statement that there had been no reported serious ailments believed to be linked to smoke that poured out of the fire in massive plumes Wednesday, Thursday and into Friday. 

However, the DEC also said it is far from finished monitoring air quality in the area.

The DEC recommends continuing to keep windows and doors closed, avoiding outdoor activities and if possible redirecting air ventilation systems to use indoor air rather than drawing in out door air. 

Two air monitors were set up east and northeast of the fire starting Wednesday, the DEC said, due to the wind forecast. The monitors were in the Electric Ave and Madison Ave neighborhoods in Lackawanna. 

The Particulate Matter (PM) concentrations were in the Hazardous Air Quality Index category as the plume from the fire passed over the Madison Avenue monitor the afternoon and evening of Thursday, Nov. 10. Then the plume moved easterly and caused hazardous air quality on Electric Avenue early on Friday, Nov. 11. 

Particulate Matter concentrations have returned to normal in the monitored locations, the DEC says, as it monitors air quality in other locations where smoke drifted from the fire. 

Particulate Matter is also just one air quality measurement the DEC is investigating. It is also examining samples for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), chemicals that easily enter the air as gases from some solids and liquids, which require much more lab work. Results will most likely not be available until next week, the DEC says. 

Updated air quality information for Lackawanna and any area of the country can be found here: http://bit.ly/2fImLG1

As of Saturday evening, firefighters were still watering down the site. 


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