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

Blog Post

Progress Report: President Biden’s First 100 Days | Lisa Frank

Our new progress report finds that despite the need to rebuild many federal agencies and tackle the COVID-19 crisis, the Biden administration has already taken numerous steps to restore environmental protections.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Statement: Allegheny County receives another failing grade for air pollution

PITTSBURGH -- Allegheny County again received straight “F” grades in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report, making it one of only 13 counties nationwide to do so. The Pittsburgh Metro ranked ninth- worst for soot pollution in the study, which was released Wednesday. This type of pollution is linked to health problems such as asthma, heart disease, stroke and premature death.

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Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Accelerating the Transition to Electric School Buses

THE VAST MAJORITY of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. Diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change. However, there is an alternative: zero-emission battery electric school buses.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Allegheny Co. residents overwhelmingly support stronger clean air protections

PITTSBURGH -- The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) held a virtual public hearing Wednesday night on proposed revisions to the County’s Coke Oven Regulations, which are the key environmental protections governing U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works. More than 50 local residents, including more than 25 PennEnvironment volunteers, testified in support of the County’s proposal to improve inspection practices and clarify limits for sulfur pollution, a respiratory irritant. Residents also urged for even stronger emissions reductions. 

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Statement: Biden keeps promise as U.S. rejoins the international Paris Agreement

WASHINGTON -- When the Trump administration officially pulled the United States out of the international Paris Agreement on Nov. 4, 2020, Joe Biden promised that the United States would rejoin the climate accord upon his first day in office. On Wednesday, Biden followed through on that commitment. Via executive order, President Biden ensured that the U.S. will once again be part of this ground-breaking agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   

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