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Breathe_Cam_photo_captures-July_2014

Visible pollution in Pittsburgh:  compare days with low vs elevated levels of fine particulate matter. Both our visual and olfactory senses can act as “monitors” of pollution, depending on the type of pollutant. However, some pollutants impart no odors and cannot be seen. (Images from the Breathe Cam)

 

By Albert Presto
Assistant Research Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

 

What we put into the air doesn’t stay in one place. This may seem obvious to anyone who has stood downwind of a smoky campfire or watched the wind push around dust and leaves. But this fact often seems to be forgotten when examining the impacts of a pollution source on nearby populations. The bias is generally to focus very close to the source. This is with good reason – regardless of which way the wind is blowing, emissions from a factory or other facility will almost always be present nearby – but it also can give the misleading impression that only those people living in the shadow of a source can be affected.

 

In Pittsburgh, our noses can remind us of the presence nearby pollution sources. Local residents, myself included, will report instances of “industrial” odors, even if they live or work miles away from the nearest major industrial facility. Others smell nothing. The odors tend to be most intense in the morning hours, when the atmosphere is calm and the ground-level mixed layer is shallow, meaning that emissions are trapped near the ground.

 

To many, the source of these odors can be puzzling. We don’t live in Pittsburgh’s bad old days, when steel mills up and down the rivers belched black smoke day and night. Often there is no visible indication of a source, such as smoke or an idling truck nearby. The few remaining major sources are clustered into a few enclaves along the rivers (like the Monongahela River valley industrial complex), often far from where people smell and report the odors from. With no smoking gun, what makes the stink?

 

To help answer this question, my research group at Carnegie Mellon University recently characterized air pollution in two Pittsburgh neighborhoods about 10 miles from any major industrial sources. We found that in both locations, one in the suburban south hills and one in Squirrel Hill, concentrations of some pollutants would peak during the overnight and early morning hours. These pollutants included a class of cancer-causing organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, and xylenes, collectively known as BTEX. BTEX is emitted by a number of different sources, including automobiles and some industrial activities.

 

We were able to determine that the nighttime and early morning peaks in BTEX are the result of nearby industrial emissions, trapped near the ground by weather conditions, and transported to our measurement locations by the wind. The industrial sources contributed about 70 percent of the measured BTEX at the two measurement sites, with traffic making up about a quarter. This means that industrial sources can dominate human exposures to pollutants classified as air toxics by the EPA. Industrial and traffic sources show very different temporal patterns – the traffic source is strongest in the day, when people are driving their cars, whereas the industrial source peaks overnight, during hours when many people are home and asleep. Thus, people may be unaware of their exposure. The industrial plumes can also persist into the morning hours, mixing with traffic emissions and affecting exposures during the early waking hours.

 

Do these BTEX plumes match with reports from the local nose patrol? Our initial results indicate that they do. Several volunteers logged smell reports while my team was making our measurements. Each smell event logged by our volunteers matched a measured overnight plume, though our smellers did not log every measured plume event. It’s important to note that smelly or not, these plumes exist and impact large parts of the county. Truly determining the accuracy of the human nose at identifying these industrial plumes will require a more focused study, but the initial results suggest that the industrial smells noticed by the public are real and are the result of plumes of industrial emissions.

 

Read the full report on this research.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Lou Takacs, Communications Director
412-350-4157, Louis.Takacs@AlleghenyCounty.US

 

(Pittsburgh) May 17, 2016    An audit by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner indicates that the use of negotiated settlements known as consent decrees has failed to result in major air pollution sources coming into compliance with regulations. Rather than compelling significant reductions in emissions, these agreements have allowed the operators of polluting facilities to pay agreed-upon penalties while they continue to pollute at non-compliant levels.

 

“Instead of bringing harmful emissions to within regulatory limits and realizing the benefits such reductions would bring to the health of Allegheny County residents, major polluters have essentially been allowed to write their own ticket and continue to pollute,” Wagner said. “When companies consider fines simply part of the cost of doing business, of course their performance does not improve.”

 

Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates at least part of Allegheny County as in non-attainment for three of six criteria pollutants: ozone, fine particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. In 2013, Pittsburgh ranked below a dozen other benchmark metropolitan areas in both ozone and fine particulate matter measurements, according to EPA.

 

“If we are truly to leave behind the popular perception of Pittsburgh as the ‘smoky city’ and make our region the ‘most livable’ for all of our residents, we must work to make the facts match the rhetoric,” Wagner said.

 

The audit determined that understaffing in the Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) Air Quality program has likely promoted the use of consent decrees rather than pursuing litigation which could have succeeded in reducing pollution levels. ACHD has generally had only one attorney on staff to negotiate and litigate air quality non-compliance, though a second attorney was recently hired.

 

For violations which have not been subject to consent agreements, the audit found that while federal regulations allow for increasing fines for repeat non-compliance up to a $25,000 per day maximum, ACHD has not fully employed this tool to compel reductions, leaving fines below the maximum penalty even as violations continue.

 

“If the rules continue to be broken after one punishment, then more serious penalties are warranted. Children are held to this standard, but not corporations? It’s time for the Health Department to get serious about companies that persist in breaking the law,” Wagner said.

 

The audit also found that a lack of adequate technological, organizational and human resources within the Air Quality Program resulted in significant backlogs in permit applications. A backlog of more than 200 initial or renewal permit applications existed, and 18 pollution sources were in operation based on installation permits without ever even applying for an operating permit. One facility was operating with its installation permit pending since 2009.

 

“While enforcement is a paramount duty of the Air Quality program, it also has a responsibility to industry to provide certainty and a stable regulatory environment. It is failing in this respect when permits are not issued for months or years on end,” Wagner said. “While these delays are not preventing companies from setting up shop and operating, they do send a poor message to manufacturers which may consider locating in Allegheny County.”

 

The ACHD’s current program management software is unable to even produce a list of all outstanding applications. This software also failed to generate bills for more than $7,000 in administrative fees which should have been collected by ACHD during 2014.

 

The audit also found that Air Quality program enforcement staff does not adequately document its evaluations of reports submitted by pollution sources so that verification may occur by management or interested outside parties.

 

“I believe firmly in ‘trust but verify.’ A signature on a form doesn’t tell me anything about what my children are breathing. The public needs to know how submissions from polluters are evaluated so that there can be confidence that the information we have is accurate,” Wagner said.

 

Despite available financial resources, the ACHD has not hired new monitoring staff until longstanding employees have retired or otherwise left their positions, preventing on-the-job training by experienced staff and the continuity of institutional knowledge. Furthermore, once vacancies have occurred they have often not been filled quickly.

 

“While there are always financial and practical limitations on government, I believe as an elected official and as a mother that investments in ensuring the quality of our air are essential, and that making improvements in monitoring should be a foremost priority for the County,” Wagner said.

 

The full Analysis of the Allegheny County Health Department’s Air Quality Program For the Period January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 can be viewed here.

 

FracTracker Alliance invites southwest PA residents to learn more about the first ever online, searchable map of oil and gas leases in Allegheny County, PA. FracTracker is holding a public workshop at the PCA galleries on May 12th to demonstrate how to use the online lease map and search tools. Suggested donation for this workshop is $10. Please RSVP for this event at: http://goo.gl/forms/0R4kYLvIM3.

 

The workshop is part of a broader exhibition by the Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (PF/PCA) showcasing the impacts of oil and gas extraction in Pennsylvania.

GASP event on May 11, 5-8pm at Botany Hall, Phipps Conservatory Advance Registration.

To commemorate World Asthma Month in May, Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, and The Breathe Project are presenting a summit on the impact of the Pittsburgh region’s air quality on asthma outcomes in our communities. Pittsburgh’s particulate matter air pollution is among the worst 15 percent of cities across the country. Particulate matter pollution is tied to multiple illnesses, including asthma. The summit will focus on air quality in Pittsburgh and the impact of urban living on health. The summit also will summarize action items to clean our region’s air.

 

This conference is intended for internal medicine and family practice physicians, pediatricians, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, asthma specialists, pulmonary specialists, cardiac specialists, obstetricians and public health specialists. The conference also welcomes all members of the community, including parents, school nurses, administrators, teachers and community leaders. The summit is free and is open to the public.

 

At the conclusion of the conference, participants should have the ability to:

-Discuss air quality issues in Pittsburgh and associated health challenges.

-Recognize the impact of regional air quality on asthma outcomes in Pittsburgh.

-Understand the impacts of urban living on health.

-Discuss ways to improve the region’s air quality.

 

Conference Location:
Pittsburgh Marriott City Center
112 Washington Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

 

Conference Date:
Thursday, May 5, 2016

 

Registration:
Registration deadline is May 2, 1016. (Scroll down to the May 5th event.)
Registrations will be taken after the deadline date on a space-available basis.

 

You also can download the brochure for this conference that contains the conference schedule and additional information.

 

Parking:
Chatham Center Parking Garage (112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219)
Parking is available in the Chatham Center parking garage with easy elevator access to the hotel meeting rooms. Self-parking is $12.00 per day, with no in and out privileges. (Sorry, parking cannot be validated.)

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

 

Presentations Will Include Results of AHN Study on Asthma in Pittsburgh-area Schoolchildren, Keynote Address on Health Impacts of Urban Living 

 
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Leading asthma experts will gather Thursday, May 5 in Pittsburgh to explore the impact regional air quality has on asthmatic disease in the Pittsburgh community. “The Air We Breathe: A Regional Summit on Asthma in Our Community,” presented by Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and The Breathe Project of The Heinz Endowments, runs from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.

 

AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) and The Breathe Project have partnered since 2012 to bring together internationally leading experts on the health impacts of air pollution to address the latest scientific information and raise further awareness about this public health issue. The Summit is free and open to the public, and members of the media are invited to attend.

 

A highlight of this year’s Summit will be a presentation by Deborah Gentile, MD, Director of Allergy and Asthma Clinical Research in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at AHN, on findings from a recently completed study of asthma prevalence, severity and risk factors among local school children. The Breathe Project funded Dr. Gentile’s pilot study of 267 fifth-grade students from 12 Pittsburgh-area schools. She will make her presentation, “Impact of Air Quality on Asthma Outcomes in Our Region’s Schoolchildren,” at 9 a.m.

 

The keynote speaker at the Summit is Michael Brauer, ScD, a professor of medicine at The University of British Columbia who sits on the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate and Clear Air Coalition (CCAC), part of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Dr. Brauer specializes in the assessment of exposure and health impacts of air pollution, particularly transportation-related and biomass air pollution. His keynote address, “Health Impacts of Urban Living,” is scheduled for 10:15 to 11:15 a.m.

 

“Pittsburgh certainly has come a long way from the place where the streetlights infamously would come on during the daytime because the air was so heavy and dark from pollution, but much work remains to be done,” said Dr. Gentile. “Pittsburgh’s particulate matter pollution is among the worst 15 percent of cities in the United States, and particulate matter pollution is tied to multiple illnesses, including asthma. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation has ranked Pittsburgh as the 27th-most challenging U.S. city to live with asthma. Events like the Summit are important to ensure we are working together to develop the best possible solutions to the asthma epidemic.”

 

Other topics and presenters at the Summit will include:

•    “Air Quality in Pittsburgh and Environmental Health Challenges” – 8:10 a.m., Philip Johnson, MPH, PhD, Program Director for Science and Environment and Director of The Breathe Project at The Heinz Endowments

•    “Developing Air Quality Guidance Criteria for Urban Planners: How Model Cities Can Make a Difference” – 8:30 a.m., Norman Anderson, MSPH, environmental public health consultant

•    “Call to Action: Working Together for Clean Air in the Region” – 11:15 a.m., Thurman Brendlinger, MBA, Program Director, Clean Air Council and Margaret Sammon Parsons, PhD, Healthy Air Campaign Coordinator, American Lung Association in PA

 

Nearly 25 million Americans, and more than 9 percent of children, suffer from asthma. It accounts for 25 percent of all emergency room visits and 3,300 deaths yearly, many of which could be avoided with proper treatment and care.

 

###

For more information, contact:

This week, the folks at GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution) did a retro thing in our digital, share-it-all world. Rather than deluge Pittsburgh Public Schools with tweets and Facebook posts asking them to upgrade their buses to spew less pollution, they went old-school, delivering hundreds of postcards, signed by parents and community members, to district administration at a Board of Education meeting.

IdleBlog1

In mid-December, Group Against Smog and Pollution delivered hundreds of signed postcards to Pittsburgh Public Schools, urging them to upgrade school buses so that they emit fewer pollutants.

 

School buses? They emit pollution? Yes.

Every day, while kids wait to board the bus after school, while they’re in transit, idling school buses release a soup of polluting chemicals into the air and into your kids’ lungs. It’s called diesel particulate matter, and it’s made up of benzene, formaldehyde, nitrogen compounds, sulfur compounds, and tiny pieces of metal, ash and carbon (dude, that’s a list!).

And it’s not just your kids breathing in that stuff. The teachers and para-pros who wait with them and the bus drivers who take them home also get lungs full of the stuff. Every day.

Buses waiting near Pittsburgh's downtown schools. They are turned off, not idling.

Buses waiting near Pittsburgh’s downtown schools. They are turned off, not idling.

Pollution is strongly linked to childhood asthma, other respiratory illnesses in kids and adults and heart problems in grown-ups. So, GASP’s request to PPS was a simple one – as the district renegotiates their contract with the school bus companies they want to work with, insist that

a) they use only newer buses built with emission controls,

or

b) that they retrofit their old fleets with diesel particulate filters.

 

GASP said to the district, be part of the plan to give our kids the cleanest air possible every day.

 

We have some of the worst air in the United States, and that’s true for pretty much all of the Pittsburgh area. Idling may not be our biggest source of pollution in Pittsburgh, but it’s an important and comparatively easy one to manage.

 

While the bulk of the schmutz in the air comes from industrial point sources like coke ovens, the few remaining steel mills and cement plants, a good chunk of it also comes from commercial diesel vehicles. By law, they are allowed to idle for five out of every 60 minutes in operation, and up to 15 minutes per hour if they carry passengers in need of say, heat or air conditioning.

 

So, school buses, tour buses, those large coaches that take commuters back to the exurbs each day – they really aren’t supposed to sit with their engines running. Yet, they do, even in the case of school buses, as they are sitting in front of mandatory signs asking them not to. GASP has sent several hundred signs to 13 different regional school districts, including most recently, the one in Hempfield.

Buses are not supposed to idle outside schools for longer than five minutes per 60 minute stretch.

Buses are not supposed to idle outside schools for longer than five minutes per 60 minute stretch.

 

Getting newer buses is a good deal for districts, too. They are more reliable. Parents get fewer calls about stalled buses. Drivers don’t have to worry if turning off the bus means they won’t be able to turn it back on.

 

And then, there’s this: money. The idling law is only enforceable by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspectors and local police departments. The cops get half the fine in civic revenue for each ticket paid. For communities who have the manpower, enforcing this law means cash in the coffers.

 

So, as the school year continues, here’s to the teachers, parents, drivers and even the kids themselves who talk to bus drivers and school officials about this issue, and who value the littlest lungs in our city. Cleaner buses and less idling means a less toxic educational environment in southwestern PA, and who wouldn’t get behind that?

 

If your school district is lacking the mandatory signage contact GASP at idling@gasp-pgh.org for information on free signs.

 

Wednesday morning, members of several different air quality groups gathered in downtown Pittsburgh to stage a “play-in” with their children to draw attention to air quality issues in our city. The event coincided with a major coke production technology conference happening in downtown. Here’s what they had to say.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

October 28, 2015

Trisha Sheehan, Moms Clean Air Force

tsheehan@momscleanairforce.org, (856) 796-0300

 

Local Health and Environmental Leaders Call for Action to Protect Allegheny County Families from Air Pollution

 

“Play-in” brings together families, health experts and advocates supporting clean air as coke manufacturing convention rolls into Pittsburgh

 

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Health and environmental advocates from throughout Allegheny County came together this morning in downtown Pittsburgh to draw attention to the negative health impact air pollution has on local families – and to urge policymakers and business leaders to take action. Pittsburgh ranks as one of the top 10 most polluted cities in the nation with regard to short- and long-term particle pollution, according to an annual survey from the American Lung Association. That kind of pollution can increase the risk of heart and lung disease, adverse birth outcomes, cancer and premature death.

 

Today’s event coincided with the Met Coke 2015 convention, a gathering of leaders in the coke, coal and steel industries. Attendees at the conference plan to discuss how technology and innovation can shape the coke manufacturing industry. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies the toxins from coke manufacturing emissions as among the most toxic, labeling it a carcinogen.

 

The largest coke plant in the country – U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works – is right here in Allegheny County.

 

“Two years ago, the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health reported that residents of Allegheny County are facing a cancer risk twice – and in some cases, even 20 – times higher than those living in surrounding areas due to air pollution,” said Dr. Marsha Haley, a radiation oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “That’s an astounding statistic, and it carries undeniable consequences for our public health. If we are serious about improving the health of our families, industry workers, and especially our children, we must address the pollution coming from coke facilities and other industrial plants in our area.”

 

 

“I love living in the Pittsburgh area – it’s my family’s home, and there’s nowhere else I’d want to raise my children. But parents like me shouldn’t have to worry every day about the quality of air our kids are breathing,” said Patrice Tomcik, an organizer with Moms Clean Air Force. “We know that many of the industrial facilities in this region pump toxins into the air that make people sick, and we know that many of these facilities do not regularly comply with the health guidelines meant to keep all of us safe. It’s time for that to change – our kids deserve better.”

 

 

 

Earlier this week, the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center issued a “Toxic Ten” report, which found that more than one-third of Allegheny County residents live within just three miles of 10 industrial facilities responsible for pumping at least 1.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into the air in 2013. The emissions from these Toxic Ten facilities include chromium, manganese, and benzene – toxins that can cause an array of health problems including cancer.

 

 

 

“The Pittsburgh region is home to the highest density concentration of coke manufacturing operations anywhere in the United States,” said Dr. Albert Presto, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher with significant expertise in mapping the spread of toxic emissions in and around Pittsburgh. “We also know that the highest levels of air pollutants in Allegheny County are recorded at the monitors near the Shenango and Clairton coke works. It’s not just the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the shadow of these facilities who are exposed – toxins form plumes that can travel miles through the air, making this a problem about which every single person living in our region should be concerned.”

 

 

 

“It’s ironic that Pittsburgh is chosen to highlight the success of coke-making when the coke plants in our backyard are regularly violating the health standards put in place to protect our communities,” said Cassi Steenblok, Program Organizer for Clean Water Action. “We work with people throughout the Mon Valley who are forced to live with the health effects of being in a region consistently among the worst in the nation for air quality because of a local coke plant. These facilities need to recognize the effect they are having on our health and the environment and take an active role in cleaning up their acts.”

 

“Today’s event shows that families throughout the Pittsburgh region are rightfully taking air pollution seriously,” said Stephen Riccardi, with PennEnvironment. “Our Toxic Ten report, released earlier this week, shows that one in three individuals live within a three-mile radius of Allegheny County’s most toxic air polluters. This has implications for all of us and our families, and we all need to work together if we’re serious about making Pittsburgh the Most Livable City.”

 

 

“We continue to be concerned about the health implications that toxic emissions from local coke plants have on families all across Allegheny County,” said Rachel Filippini, Executive Director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP). “The best and brightest minds in the coke industry are in Pittsburgh right now talking about opportunities for and challenges to their industry. I hope they take this unique opportunity to talk about technologies, work practices, and innovations that could reduce their emissions and the serious impact they have on Pittsburghers’ health and quality of life.”

###

This morning, PennEnvironment released a report outlining the top 10 air toxics polluters in Allegheny County. These businesses are all over the county, affecting some 400,000 people who live within three miles of them.

 

Area air quality groups responded to the report with calls for action. Here’s what they said:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2015

Mollie Simon, Clean Air Council

msimon@cleanair.org

 

 

New Report Calls Out the Worst Industrial Sources of Air Pollution in Allegheny County

 

Hundreds of thousands of families across Allegheny County live in the shadows of ‘Toxic Ten’ facilities

 

Pittsburgh, Pa. – More than one-third of Allegheny County residents live within a three-mile radius of 10 industrial facilities responsible for pumping at least 1.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into the air in 2013, according to a new report from the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. The report, “Toxic Ten: The Allegheny County Polluters that Are Fouling Our Air and Threatening Our Health,” exposes the chronic refusal of many of the region’s industrial facilities to comply with guidelines from the Allegheny County Health Department that are meant to keep everyone safe.

 

The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center used industry-reported data from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) on the amount and type of emissions from area facilities to determine which posed the greatest hazard to the health of nearby citizens. The emissions from these Toxic Ten industrial facilities include chromium, manganese, and benzene – toxins that can cause an array of health problems including cancer. It’s not just a hazard for the residents living in the shadows of these facilities. Toxic pollutants can travel a variety of distances, with studies showing some pollutants traveling more than 10 miles.

 

A number of the region’s leading medical and environmental experts are speaking out about the new report:

 

“We know that these toxins that are released into the air contribute to a variety of adverse health effects in both children and adults, including cancer and asthma as well as other problems,” said Dr. Deborah Gentile, an allergist-immunologist with Allegheny General Hospital. “Pittsburgh’s asthma rates exceed the national average, and one of the potential reasons why is because of the toxic emissions the facilities cited in this report release into the air we all breathe, each and every day. Other factors such as obesity, nutrition, infections, tobacco smoke exposure and poverty also play a role in asthma. We have not conquered our asthma problem in this region yet and one of the factors that we must address is how we can make the air we all breathe cleaner.”

 

Aviva Diamond of Moms Clean Air Force added, “Allegheny County has some of the worst air quality in the nation. The very air our children breathe is dangerous to their health and well-being. There is simply no more time to continue taking baby steps to address polluters – the Allegheny County Health Department must enforce existing regulations to keep our children safe and healthy.”

 

“This report provides clear evidence that we all need to come together – ACHD, community members, environmental health advocates and other NGO organizations and businesses – to take the needed steps and clean up our air throughout the region. With so many of our community members living right near a Toxic Ten facility, we know this is negatively impacting the health, welfare and quality of life of nearly everyone who calls Allegheny County home,” said Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel Joe Minott.

 

The Toxic Ten report comes as some of the biggest names in the coke industry descend on Pittsburgh for the Met Coke 2015 convention this week. Experts and researchers will be gathering to discuss how technology and innovation can inform coke manufacturing moving forward. Coke is a highly-refined and processed form of coal, and it is one of the main materials needed to manufacture steel. The Environmental Protection Agency describes coke emissions as among the most toxic of all air pollutants, and classifies it as a carcinogen.

 

The country’s largest coke producer is right here in Allegheny County. About 37,000 people live within three miles of U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works, and the facility has been in near-constant violation of health guidelines since 2012.

 

“If Pittsburgh is going to truly become the most livable city we, as an entire region, need to think harder about not only what type of jobs we want to attract, but what it will take to attract those jobs. Quality of life for Allegheny County residents is reflected in the quality of the air that we breathe,” said George Jugovic, Chief Council with PennFuture. “Regulations to protect public health aren’t at odds with a vibrant workforce, they strengthen it.”

 

“We often hear from residents throughout the Mon Valley who are dealing with the health and environmental effects associated with poor air quality. Whether they are in Clairton, Liberty, or West Elizabeth one thing is the same – poor air quality is impacting the health and standard of living for all residents,” said Cassi Steenblok, Program Organizer for Clean Water Action. “This report comes as no surprise and just further proves the need for the county to get tough on air pollution.”

 

“This report highlights what the thousands of families living in the shadow of DTE Shenango Coke Works have known for far too long: these facilities simply don’t follow the regulations in place that are meant to keep our families safe and healthy,” said Thaddeus Popovich, with the citizens’ group Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN). “It’s time for facilities like Shenango to recognize that they operate in communities that thousands of people call home. That means they have to play by the rules.”

 

Jamin Bogi, Policy and Outreach Coordinator at Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) said, “This report adds further evidence to bolster our concern about McConway & Torley’s foundry in Lawrenceville, which has the most people living within three miles of its facility compared to others on the list. There has been a fence line monitor at M&T for years, but we know their metal emissions are still worrisome. It’s time for action to reduce these toxic emissions.”

 

###

This morning, PennEnvironment, a statewide group that works on several issues, include air quality, released their assessment of the worst air toxics offenders in Allegheny County. These businesses are everywhere in the county, from Bridgeville to Neville Island to Lawrenceville and the rankings are based on their own reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Tox102

PennEnvironment announced the release of their Toxic Ten air toxic polluters in Allegheny County on Oct. 26, 2015. They were joined by several other air quality advocates, including Clean Water Action, Allegheny County Clean Air Now and the Sierra Club. They were also joined by residents of the county who live near one of the 10 polluters.

One of their big findings: More than 1/3 of Allegheny County’s 1.2 million residents live within three miles of one of these polluters. Why does that matter? Because air moves, and even if a polluter isn’t in your backyard, what it releases into the air will eventually get there.

A woman who lives near Cheswick Power Plant shows photos of her experience living near a major point source of pollution in Allegheny County.

A woman who lives near Cheswick Power Plant shows photos of her experience living near a major point source of pollution in Allegheny County.

 

Use this interactive map to see how close you are to the Toxic Ten.

 

 

 

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