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The second “Creatives for Climate Workshop” will be held on March 11th

 

Come explore climate solutions and create new ways to deal with climate change. Network and brainstorm with experts and peers alike. Get hands-on experiences exploring climate change and solutions.

 

Location: Repair the World, East Liberty, Pittsburgh, 6022 Broad St, Pgh
Date: March 11th, 2017
Time: 9:00 A.M. – 3:30 P.M.
Tickets: $10. Reserve your spot by registering here on EventBrite by March 6th.
Food: Lunch and snacks provided

 

Partners: Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Pittsburgh Filmmakers / Center for the Arts, Climate and Urban Systems Partnership Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

By Thaddeus Popovich,
Allegheny County Clean Air Now co-founder

 

In January 2016, the Shenango coke plant, six miles down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, shut down after producing coke for 54 years. It had operated a battery of 56 ovens, which each year produced 350,000 tons of coke, the fuel used in steelmaking.

 

About 170 workers lost their jobs because of the closing, a sobering result of the decision by DTE Energy, a Detroit-based, diversified energy company, to shutter the plant because of the global steel industry’s “overcapacity.” But for many people who lived near the plant, the clearer skies and cleaner air of the past year have been a welcomed relief for them and their families and a testament to their determination to improve the quality of life in their community.

 

For decades, Shenango’s coke-making process – filling an oven with coal, baking it at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for18 hours, then removing the coke and dousing it with water to cool – created hazardous byproducts such as fine particulates and the carcinogenic air toxins benzene, xylene and toluene. Federal and Allegheny County Health Department officials issued numerous consent degrees and orders because of violations of air and water quality regulations. A 2014 county decree, for example, covered 330 days of air quality violations over a 432-day period that ended Sept. 30, 2013. Also in 2014, the advocacy nonprofit GASP – Group Against Smog and Pollution – filed a citizens lawsuit against Shenango.

 

Meanwhile, residents of nearby communities like Avalon, Bellevue, Ben Avon and Emsworth became more and more impatient. They were tired of air that smelled at times like rotten eggs, with a distinct whiff of partially burnt coal. They grew weary of the blanket of hazy bad air that seemed to hang over the valley more often than not. And they were frustrated that regulatory agencies seemed ineffective in controlling the problem.

 

That’s why a group of us in the area formed an informal grass roots association called Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN). Some of us became certified emissions evaluators to watch Shenango and report on harmful emissions. We organized meetings within the community and met with the Health Department on a regular basis. We traveled to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Region III headquarters in Philadelphia to meet with Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin and his staff to request their help. We obtained resolutions from our municipalities requesting that the Health Department strictly enforce regulations, and we presented a petition requesting the same, signed by a consortium of businesses, churches and other local organizations.

 

ACCAN also worked with local media and set up a social media network to increase broad public awareness of the problem. We engaged with Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab – Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment – which helped us set up a 24/7 video monitor of the plant and distribute Speck air quality monitors to homes and businesses in the surrounding community to confirm the presence of fine particulates. And we created a stories project to detail the before-and-after effects of more than 20 individuals affected by the Shenango coke plant.

 

We have found that since Shenango shut down, the improvement in air quality has been significant. In the first quarter of 2015, the Health Department received 109 complaints from the surrounding communities versus 13 complaints during the first quarter of 2016, an 88 percent reduction. Of the 109 reports, 99 identified Shenango as the source of the problem. Monitoring cameras now show a haze-free site with no more grey, black or tan billowing emissions. All monitors are recording a reduction in pollution levels.

 

Anecdotal examples support the improvement. Debbie Blackburn and her family have lived in Ben Avon for more than 19 years and had made plans to move because they could no longer cope with the constant bad air. Both of her sons suffer from autism, a condition studies have shown to be associated with air pollution. They decided to stay after plans to close Shenango were announced in December 2015. Blackburn said now the air is refreshing and “the wind …feels clean against your skin, not gritty and heavy.”

 

Leah Andrascik, an Avalon resident, said with the plant’s closure “a huge weight has been lifted. We can leave windows open overnight without waking to nauseating odors or headaches. Our boys play outside, and I don’t have to cut their play time short because of odors in the neighborhood. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to stay in the home and community we now can love.”

 

Although the Shenango plant is gone, we continue to be concerned about what DTE Energy will do next with the 50-acre site. We are lobbying hard for replacing Shenango with a solar array facility as DTE Energy is doing at several locations in Michigan and a brownfield site in eastern Pennsylvania.

 

We continue to be watchful of the remaining industries on Neville Island, three of which hold operating permits issued by Allegheny County Health Department based on Environmental Protection Agency regulations. We are concerned about the proposed Shell petrochemical ethane cracker plant in Beaver County and are offering our assistance in the formation of grass roots awareness and activism.

 

Now that Shenango has been closed for a year, we no longer are fearful of the air and water contaminants, measured in tons per year, which spewed into our air and flowed into the Ohio River. Our air and water are cleaner now. We expect that our incidences of cancer and cardiovascular, nervous and respiratory system problems will go down significantly. And we believe our communities will be healthier, more attractive places to live.

 

Thaddeus Popovich,
ACCAN co-founder

 

The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer, who is responsible for its content.

A Webinar on the Latest Science, and its Implications for Health Professionals

 

Accreditation: Approved for 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM

Thursday, December 8th, 12:15 -1:15 pm, Eastern Standard Time

 

REGISTER FOR WEBINAR AT: http://bit.ly/cancerlinkswebinar

 

While pediatric cancer is still a rare disease, the rate of new cancers has increased nearly 30% since 1975.  A growing body of research links pediatric cancers to environmental exposures in utero and in childhood.  Recent science also points to a role for early life exposures in priming the body for developing cancer in adulthood. In this webinar, presenters will review the state of the science on the contribution of environmental exposures in early life to cancer, and reflect on its implications for clinical practice and engagement of health professionals in policy change. A special focus of the webinar will be on air pollution. A description of exposures from mobile and point sources in Southwest Pennsylvania will provide a case study in the challenges and opportunities for reducing exposures as industrial economies transition.

 

Presenters:

Dr. Phil Landrigan – Dean for Global Health and Professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. Dr. Landrigan is an internationally recognized pediatrician, epidemiologist, and leader in public health, children’s environmental health and preventive medicine.
Dr. Jim Fabisiak – Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, School of Public Health. Dr. Fabisiak is a toxicologist with expertise in the mechanisms and injury of air pollutants.
Dr. Richard Clapp – Professor Emeritus of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health/Adjunct Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and former Director of the Massachusetts Cancer Registry. Dr. Clapp is an epidemiologist who specializes in environmental and occupational cancer.

 

Moderator:

Dr. Polly Hoppin – Research Professor, Department of Public Health, Program Director, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts Lowell

 

Respondents:

Marsha Haley – Radiation Oncologist, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Edward Ketyer – Pediatrician, Pediatric Alliance
Matt Mehalik, Ph.D. – Director, Air Quality Collaborative

 
Supporting Organizations: Air Quality Collaborative Allegheny Health Network American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Chapter American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic Children’s Environmental Health Network Clean Air Council Group Against Smog and Pollution Homewood Children’s Village Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts, Lowell Silent Spring Institute Southwestern PA Environmental Health Project The Heinz Endowments Women for a Healthy Environment

 

Join Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hillman Photography Initiative on November 19th at 1:30pm for a free artist talk with Andrea Polli, one of the Initiative’s contributing artists. Andrea is launching ‘Energy Flow,’ a large-scale public light artwork and wind power nano-grid on Pittsburgh’s Rachel Carson Bridge. This project, a celebration of the 2016 Light Up Night and Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary, uses WindStax turbines to provide a near real-time animated LED visualization of the bridge’s wind-power potential.

 

Nov. 19, 2016
1:30 – 2:30 pmCMOA Theater

 

More information available here.

Free, Registration recommended as seating is limited

 

 

Join PennFuture on Saturday, October 1 for their sixth annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour, which encourages solar and clean energy solutions by connecting the public to a variety of residential, public and commercial solar installations and solar installers.

 

Sat., Oct 1, 2016
Noon to 4:00

 

Sign up here.

 

Tour stops located in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region Allegheny County, PA 15222

A FREE Event Sponsored by Marcellus Outreach Butler, in cooperation with National Drive Electric Week and Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Committee

 

September 10, 2016
11 am – 5 pm

 

Kohl’s lower lot at Cranberry Commons (Rt. 228), Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Join CCI and Diagnostic Energy Auditors of Western Pennsylvania as they welcome Jack Anderson, President/CEO of Healthy Housing Solutions to learn the seven principles of healthy home and  learn why consumers need healthy home assessments and repairs/upgrades at many points in their lives.

 

Monday, September 12, 2016 at 6:00pm.

 

Registration requested but not required by emailing Elizabeth – 4elizabethedelstein@gmail.com.

Are you interested in competing in 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge (GWC) but want to learn more before signing up by the Aug. 31 deadline? Are you signed up for the Challenge and ready to get ahead of the competition?

 

Attend this July 29th workshop to learn more and get started.

 

Workshop Details:
Friday, July 29
8:30 am – 11:30 am (Registration & Breakfast at 8:00 am)
Union Trust Building, 11th Floor Classroom
501 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
More information and event registration

 

Hosted by Sustainable Pittsburgh, the GWC is a yearlong, friendly competition for businesses, nonprofits, universities, and local governments to engage employees and measure improvements in the areas of energy, water, waste, transportation, and more.  Cost savings and positive recognition are just two of the benefits employers can experience through participation.

 

The July 29th workshop, “Blast off the Starting Block – GWC Workshop #1″, guides participants through the first steps of the competition, including how to set up GWC accounts, develop an individualized game plan, build baselines, and start tracking actions. At the end of this workshop, attendees will have a clear strategy for moving forward in the Green Workplace Challenge.  An individual’s employer does not need to be signed up for the competition in order for the individual to attend the workshop.

 

Commit to making the Pittsburgh region a better place to live, work, and play! Sign up for this year’s Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge (GWC) and attend the kickoff celebration on June 16!  All are invited to attend the kickoff, regardless of participation.

 

A free competition, the GWC helps employers save money and gain positive recognition in the community while enabling them to measure improvements in the areas of energy, water, waste, and transportation.  This year’s competition features new action categories, a streamlined Master Playbook, Category Playbooks, and new ribbons and points for scaling up your efforts.

 

Since 2011, more than 200 employers throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania saved nearly $9 million in energy and enough water to fill Heinz Field 93 feet. During the kickoff, hear from leading organizations on how they and their employees achieved success. See how they positively impacted the region, from cost savings to resource efficiencies, to an engaged workforce.

 

Thursday, June 16
8:30 am – 11:00 am (Registration & Breakfast at 8:00 am)
August Wilson Center/African American Cultural Heritage Center

 

More information and event registration

 

inhaler

By Philip Johnson, PhD, MPH, MESc
Program Director for Science and Environment
Director, The Breathe Project

The Heinz Endowments

 

A leading pediatric asthma specialist has found that air pollution in the Pittsburgh region contributes to the local incidence and severity of asthmatic disease in our schoolchildren. The study led by Dr. Deborah Gentile, director of allergy and asthma clinical research for Allegheny Health Network, determined that poor air quality in four suburban districts — Northgate, Allegheny Valley, Gateway and Woodland Hills — as well as the City of Pittsburgh was not only the leading predictor of asthma, but it also was associated with a higher rate of uncontrolled asthma in children who participated in the volunteer study.

 

This is the most recent of several studies showing that our region’s air pollution is hurting our children.

 

In 2014, University of Pittsburgh researchers discovered that southwestern Pennsylvania children with autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of airborne chromium, styrene and fine particulate matter pollution.  Dr. Evelyn Talbott, principal investigator of the analysis and a professor of epidemiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, found that children exposed during their mothers’ pregnancies and the first two years of life have a greater risk of developing autism.

 

Other studies have examined the region’s air pollution more broadly, but the connections to the impact on children’s health are hard to ignore.

 

Is it a coincidence that an analysis by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force of state and federal air quality measurement sites from nearly 300 urban areas ranks the Pittsburgh area in the dirtiest 15 percent of monitored cities for fine particulate matter?

 

Is it a coincidence that Allegheny County’s cancer risk attributable to industrial air pollution ranks in the highest 0.03 percent of all counties in the United States, according to the National Air Toxics Assessment?

 

Is it a coincidence that last year Pittsburgh had about 250 days of air quality that was not good, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency? And that Allegheny County is among only a handful of the thousands of counties in the country still not meeting federal air quality standards?

 

Science says all of this is not a coincidence. In fact, science shows that air pollution is hurting our region’s children.

 

Fine particle air pollution prematurely kills nearly 100,000 Americans each year, contributes to asthma, sends many thousands with respiratory and heart disease to hospitals and emergency rooms, and results in untold numbers of lost school and work days. Studies in Pittsburgh and across the country have shown that prenatal, infant and child exposures to air pollutants – such as ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fine particles – are associated with outcomes including premature birth and low birth weight, impairment of brain development leading to cognitive and behavioral disorders, and acute and chronic respiratory illness and disease.

 

Leading health science and pediatric experts such as Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York note that children are exquisitely more sensitive than adults to toxic chemicals in the environment. Children experience greater exposures to toxic chemicals per pound body weight – meaning they breathe in more air pollution than adults do relative to their size. Their systems are not fully capable of eliminating toxins. Their early developmental processes are easily disrupted by pollutants, so exposures to pollution can lead to a variety of serious health conditions. We should not be surprised that air pollution disproportionately harms our children.

 

Since February, The Heinz Endowments and foundation President Grant Oliphant have been urging people across the region to consider ways of creating what Mr. Oliphant has called a “Just Pittsburgh.” One aspect of this idea is devising strategies to safeguard air and water quality everywhere, for everyone, including our most vulnerable citizens.

 

Here are three things we can do to protect our children:

1) Demand that regulatory officials stop allowing “checkbook compliance” for chronic smoke stack polluters. Industrial sources – which generate nearly 60 percent of Allegheny County’s direct fine particle pollution – should be held to a standard of actual compliance with laws. Industry should not be allowed to pay fines and continue to pollute.

 

2)  Ask school administrations and boards to prioritize protecting children from pollution. Asthma and autism exact a heavy toll on children’s school attendance and performance. Schools can be environmental sanctuaries for children – clean and free of pollution. School staff, environmental health and building maintenance experts can work together to eliminate the use and presence of harmful chemicals, products and pollutants in and around schools, and to ensure the use of newer school buses with lower emissions.

 

3) Encourage elected officials to champion clean air and to promote smart policies and programs. National health experts say that better air quality is one of the most beneficial and effective ways to improve health. Economic benefits also greatly increase due to reduced health care costs. There are many proven ways local officials can make a difference. A few examples include citywide clean construction requirements for developers, building design standards that clean indoor air and reduce the intrusion of outdoor air, and engagement with medical and insurance leaders to encourage preventive health care.

 

A recent Allegheny County health indicator survey found that air pollution is the number one concern of local residents. People want clean air. A just city and region provides a healthy and livable environment for our children, and that includes ensuring that they are breathing clean air.

 

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    "Yards away sits an elementary school, where students and teachers breathe air tainted by tailpipes" #airquality http://ow.ly/q1DK309bnIP

    Feb 21st 11:18am • No Comments

    Breathe Project shared Speck Sensor's post.

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    Feb 16th 1:09pm • No Comments

    Read and share this post about the importance of immigrants to our city and nation. #JustPgh

    The Heinz Endowments

    "It is imperative that Pittsburgh remain an inclusive and welcoming city for all those who bring their culture and talents here and for those we hope in the future will make this region their home. For all of us, they make our lives richer, our economy stronger, and our community better."

    Read more of Endowments President Grant Oliphant's blog "We must remain an inclusive and welcoming city for all" http://bit.ly/2k3TlGs

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    Subra Suresh

    Feb 2nd 12:25pm • No Comments

    Thaddeus Popovich, co-founder of Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN) shares his thoughts in his blog, "Life After Shenango: One-year Anniversary of Coke Plant's Closing." http://bit.ly/2kcz3c6

    Jan 31st 10:37am • 7 Comments

    Breathe Project shared The Heinz Endowments's post.

    The Heinz Endowments

    Silence.
    It can be deafening.

    Endowments President Grant Oliphant speaks out about the "power of voice" in his latest blog. http://bit.ly/2iBTeyy

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