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

Statement: Vote to protect Delaware River from fracking is historic

PHILADELPHIA – The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a regional multi-state agency charged with preserving the Delaware River watershed, cast a historic vote today to ban fracking within the Delaware River Basin. This action comes after a multi-year public input process. Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, voted on behalf of Governor Tom Wolf to approve this proposal.

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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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Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Local Solutions to Local Pollution

Plastic pollution has quickly become a global environmental and public health threat, being met with growing public concern here in Pennsylvania, across the U.S. and around the planet. 

All told, Americans generate over 35 million tons of plastic waste every year, 90% of which is landfilled or incinerated. In fact, the US throws out enough plastic every 16 hours to fill the Dallas Cowboys stadium, and that amount is increasing.

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