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

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.

> Keep Reading
News Release | PennEnvironment

Citizens Rally to Expand Clean Energy in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG– More than 100 residents across Pennsylvania traveled to the Capitol today with PennEnvironment to deliver a message to members of the General Assembly: it’s time to play a leadership role in pioneering climate and clean energy solutions.

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News Release | PennEnvironment

Smell Something? Say Something

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab are rolling out new features in Smell PGH, a smartphone app that helps Pittsburgh area residents collectively report foul odors and alert each other to suspicious smells that waft through city neighborhoods and suburbs.

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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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