CLAIRTON, Pa. (KDKA) – It may have been hard to breathe for some people in the Liberty-Clairton area on Tuesday morning because of low air quality levels.

The air quality index was “unhealthy” from 11 p.m. on Monday until 10 a.m. on Tuesday before going back to “moderate” by noon.

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Group Against Smog and Pollution shared information from the EPA’s AirNow.Gov about how the Liberty-Clairton area was ranked as having the worst air quality in the nation during the early morning hours Tuesday.


At one point, the air quality index soared to 171, which falls into the “unhealthy” level.

“It can be very frustrating because we want to be able to exercise and go outside, vitamin D and sun is good for us, but sometimes we have to take it a little easy,” said Dr. Christine Rauscher, who is an allergist-immunologist with Allegheny Health Network.

Rauscher said when air quality is “unhealthy,” everyone should limit outdoor activities because anyone can experience symptoms like rhinitis, cough or chest tightness.

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“Try to limit time outside can help a lot and also wearing a mask when patients do have to go outside can help, trying to keep the car windows closed, and avoiding driving too much or riding too much public transportation,” she said.

Those who fall in the sensitive groups — including those with heart or lung disease, older adults, and kids — are advised to avoid going outside.

One resident told KDKA’s Jessica Guay that he feels like he can barely breathe on days like this because he has asthma.

Dr. Rauscher said air quality is affecting more people and not in a good way.

“Asthma and environmentally allergies are becoming more and more common. And unfortunately, the majority of the people live in poor population but some worse than others like the Clairton region,” she said. “On my day to day, I can definitely see more asthma patients. Also see more patients that have rhinitis symptoms like sneezing, stuffed up nose that could be part of the particulates their inhaling.”

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She said nasal sprays and inhalers can be treatments for some people. If you experience issues during bad air quality days, she said to your physician, a lung doctor or allergist.