For those of us living in Southwestern Pennsylvania, pollution from industrial plants, diesel exhaust and wood smoke in Allegheny County still poses a significant threat to our health, making the air we breathe dirty and people in our communities sick. Residents here have a significantly higher risk of developing cancer due to this exposure. Our air was ranked 8th worst in the United States in 2018 by the American Lung Association and residents in Allegheny County rank in the top 2 percent in the nation for cancer risk from pollution.
Fortunately, there are two simple things you can do to help improve our air. Download and use the Smell PGH app, which allows you to report foul odors directly to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) so they can better monitor and act on these incidents of bad smelling air. The app includes a compelling visualization of smell reports across Pittsburgh, so you can see the widespread impact of poor odors in our community.
And on June 5, World Environment Day, residents can begin to visually monitor and capture video footage of the sources of much of this pollution. Simply click on the Breathe Cam and watch three high-resolution cameras, trained on plants in U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works: the Clairton Plant Coke Works, the Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and the Irvin Plant in West Mifflin. Their images will give residents as well as government officials a means of detecting, monitoring and documenting sources of smoke and other visible air pollution.
The Mon Valley Breathe Cam was created by Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab, creators of Smell PGH, in collaboration with many Pittsburgh partners. Thanks to their work, communities have a high definition window into the smells they have been detecting on their app and the plumes of pollution that travel throughout our region.
Stay tuned for more news on community training sessions held by the CREATE Lab in Clairton and Braddock this month.