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

Proposed Pollution Limits Are A Major Step Backwards for Public Health

PITTSBURGH- Residents from Brackenridge and surrounding communities were joined by advocates from PennEnvironment, Group Against Smog and Pollution, the Environmental Integrity Project, Clean Air Council, and others at a public hearing to speak out against Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) second draft of a permit that would allow a ATI’s Brackenridge facility to emit far more pollution than it currently reports emitting. 

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News Release | PennEnvironment

PennEnvironment delivers historic clean air settlement with Monessen coke plant.

[Pittsburgh, PA] – Today the statewide citizen-based environmental group PennEnvironment announced that it has garnered what is believed to be the largest citizen suit penalty of its kind in Pennsylvania history  for alleged hundreds of air pollution violations against the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, and at the company’s Monessen, PA coke plant (a facility that processes coal).

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Allegheny County Health Department Proposes to Allow More Air Pollution from Steel Plant

Pittsburgh, Pa. – The Allegheny County Health Department yesterday proposed a permit for a steel plant near Pittsburgh that would allow the release of over 2,000 tons more air pollution than an earlier draft permit, threatening public health.  As compared to a draft issued by the county last year (which already raised concerns among local community and advocacy organizations), the new proposed Clean Air Act operating permit for ATI Flat Rolled Products Holdings, LLC’s steel plant in Brackenridge would allow the plant to annually emit nearly 300 tons more nitrogen oxides (which contribute to smog), and over 50 more tons of particulate matter (soot), which can trigger heart attacks.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Policy & Research Center

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh rank in the top 3 smoggiest cities in the Northeast

[Philadelphia] —Philadelphians experienced 97 unhealthy air pollution days in 2015 increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts according to a new report from PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center.  

“Even one day with unhealthy air is too many,” said Ash Khayami, a Campaign Organizer with PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center.

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News Release | PennEnvironment

Groups File Notice of Intent to Sue Owners of Steel Plant Over Illegal Air Pollution

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Four environmental organizations today provided notice that they intend to sue owners of a steel plant in Western Pennsylvania for violating the federal Clean Air Act by releasing far more pollution than a permit for the plant allows. 

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), PennEnvironment, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Clean Air Council are taking action against the Allegheny Ludlum plant in Brackenridge, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. 

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