Faulty sensors lead to misleading ratings of the Air Quality Index. The Allentown area has been marked with staggering hazardous level air quality as displayed in the map. (Courtesy of John Hickey on Twitter)

BREAKING: Local air quality sensors falsely read ‘hazardous’ levels


Faulty air quality sensors gave misleading high readings of pollutants in the Bethlehem area starting at 9 p.m. on May 4. 

Air quality in Bethlehem was labeled “Hazardous” by an environmental data organization that measures the air quality, known as BreezoMeter. “Hazardous” is the worst possible rating on BreezoMeter’s scale. This was a drastic change from the “Good” air quality in the same location at 3 p.m. earlier in the day. 

Lehigh University Police Chief Jason Schiffer said LUPD received over a dozen calls regarding the alarming air quality readings. 

The LUPD spoke with a Northampton County Emergency Management supervisor regarding the air. 

“The supervisor confirmed to us that a faulty air quality sensor is responsible for the high readings,” Schiffer wrote in an email. “We have no information of the existence of any air quality concerns in the Bethlehem area.” 

Meteorologist John Hickey from WNEP-TV, based in Scranton, addressed “a lot of inquiries” regarding the high Air Quality Index (AQI) reading on Twitter. He said there is no need to panic. 

“While the normal answer would be inversion and lack of wind, tonight’s culprit is easily chalked up (to) a couple of faulty sensors,” Hickey wrote in a Tweet.

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