A Dangerous Haze

The Pittsburgh area has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. 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 Dirty Dozen

Much of the industrial air pollution in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County comes from just the Dirty Dozen—12 industrial facilities that are responsible for 83% of the toxic air pollution reported by industry in the region.

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. These communities are tired of having to keep their windows closed to keep the toxic odors out of their homes, and worrying about the possible health impacts of letting their kids go outside to play.

Our Chance for Clean Air

Unfortunately, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), who is responsible for protecting citizens residents have failed to address these large sources of pollution so far. Despite overwhelming evidence of heightened risks from air pollution throughout the county, ACHD has dismissed the threat posed by air pollution time and time again.

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

Labor unions, parent groups, and health experts join Philly council members to announce citywide coalition to tackle environmental health threats in public schools

[Philadelphia] – As Philadelphia City Council heard testimony from concerned citizens at a public hearing about the city’s public schools, a powerful coalition of unusual suspects announced the kick-off of the “Philly Health Schools Initiative” to address significant building condition deficiencies and related environmental health threats found in public school buildings, including lead paint, asbestos, mold and other risks. 

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News Release | Environment Texas

Federal Court: Exxon Violated Clean Air Act Over 16,000 Times, Must Pay $19.95 Million Penalty

HOUSTON – A federal district court has ruled on a lawsuit brought against ExxonMobil in 2010 by PennEnvironment's sister organization Environment Texas and Sierra Club. They, with the help of National Environmental Law Center, sued Exxon for violating the Clean Air Act more than 16,000 times at its Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant.

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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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News Release | Penn Environment

Scott Pruitt won’t protect Pennsylvania’s air, water or families

“Pennsylvanians and all Americans deserve an EPA administrator who will fight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the planet we love. Scott Pruitt fails on all these accounts.” – David Masur, PennEnvironment.

Philadelphia – Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is slated to vote on President Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. PennEnvironment’s Executive Director, David Masur, issued the following statement in response:

 

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