Data shows “very unhealthy” air quality results in Lackawanna

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LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Graphs from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation show air particulate samples near the old Bethlehem Steel plant between Nov. 9 and Nov. 11 to be “very unhealthy” according to the air quality index.

DEC graph showing particulate levels on Electric and Cleveland
DEC graph showing particulate levels on Electric and Cleveland

A massive fire broke out at the plant the morning of Nov. 9. It’s been a week and fire crews are still battling hot spots.

The DEC released a series of graphs showing particulates, which are measured in microns, or one one-millionth of a meter.

According to the data, the air became most polluted between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 11.

The high point for particulate matter reaches around 275 micro grams per cubic meter, which is a measure of air indicating the level of particulates there is very unhealthy; that sample was taken from Electric and Cleveland in Lackawanna.

The graph also shows air pollution went down quickly after that spike, which is when the evacuation order of the Bethlehem Park neighborhood was lifted.

According to the DEC there have been no spikes in particulate levels since that time, and the air quality is now back to normal.

They plan to leave air monitoring machines on site for at least the next couple of days.

The DEC is also studying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the air near the fire; that data takes longer to analyze and is expected to be released in the next day or so.

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