Clean Air for Pittsburgh

A Dangerous Haze

Sadly, the Pittsburgh area has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Right now, the metropolitan area ranks 6th in the nation for year-round soot pollution and the American Lung Association graded the county with an F for its overall air quality. This is putting the health of local residents--and in some cases even their lives--at serious risk.

Just about everyone has a friend or family member who struggles with asthma and air pollution drastically increases their likelihood of an asthma attack that could send them to the hospital. Additionally, research found that Allegheny County ranks in the top 2% of counties for cancer risk from pollution.
This is unacceptable. Clean air is a right—not a privilege.

Cleaning up the Toxic Ten

Much of the industrial air pollution in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County comes from just 10 industrial facilities that are responsible for 83% of the toxic air pollution reported by industry in the region--They’re known as the Pittsburgh Toxic Ten.

For example, one of the worst offenders is the Shenango Coke Works. This polluting behemoth recently violated its Clean Air Act permits 330 times in a 432 day period—essentially 3 out of every four days.

Many communities located near or downwind from these polluting facilities have been fighting to get them to reduce their pollution and clean up their act for years. Local residents are sick and tired of having to keep their windows closed to keep the toxic odors out of their homes, and they’re fed up with worrying about the possible health impacts for their families or letting their kids go outside to play.

Our Chance for Clean Air

 The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is responsible for protecting local residents, and being our advocate against the region’s worst air polluters. Instead, ACHD has turned a blind eye instead of standing up to these polluters. Despite overwhelming evidence of the heightened risks posed by air pollution throughout the county, time and again ACHD has shrugged off these threats instead of taking action to protect our health.

So PennEnvironment is working to organize and amplify the voices of concerned Pittsburghers, to make sure that the county’s elected officials and the Health Department take air pollution seriously and work quickly and aggressively to address it.

Clean Air Updates

News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PennEnvironment statement on county controller’s audit of ACHD’s Air Program: Progress has been made, but continued effort needed

PITTSBURGH -- Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner released a new audit Tuesday of the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) Air Quality program. The report found encouraging progress at ACHD, specifically in addressing the chronic problem of expired or unissued Clean Air Act permits, but stated that ACHD “continued to fall short of full compliance with its obligations under federal law."

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Pittsburghers hold ‘Toxic Ten Week’ to clean up region’s air pollution

PITTSBURGH -- As local officials fail to protect Pittsburghers from air pollution, local organizations and concerned citizens are kicking off "Toxic Ten Week," a campaign with daily activities meant to spur officials in Allegheny County to action.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Statement: Environmental Protection Agency finalizes catastrophic methane rule

PITTSBURGH -- The Trump administration finalized New Source Performance Standards Thursday for oil and gas companies. The changes will allow the industry to release methane at sites across the country with little to no accountability. Methane, which is a commonly released gas during the extraction of fossil fuels, is a highly dangerous greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PennEnvironment Statement: EPA attack on mercury pollution standards puts our health at risk

PITTSBURGH -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last night finalized an attack on the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which limit emissions of mercury and other toxics from power plants that use fossil fuels.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PennEnvironment Statement: Clean cars rollback by Trump administration will worsen climate crisis

PHILADELPHIA -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today finalized the rule to rewrite and dramatically weaken the federal clean car standards, which were initially set to double fuel economy and would have cut global warming pollution in half for cars sold in 2025. The weaker standards will set back climate progress and could result in more than 900 million additional metric tons of global warming pollution in our atmosphere. Transportation pollution is already the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, and this rollback will further contribute to climate change while also worsening our air quality and threatening our health right here in Pennsylvania.

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