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

Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Cutting through the Smoke

Allegheny County has a long legacy of industrial air pollution. But while Pittsburgh is not the “Smoky City” of generations past, industrial air pollution still inflicts immense damage on the health of Allegheny County residents.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is primarily responsible for protecting the people of Allegheny County from health-threatening air pollution. ACHD has been delegated authority to enforce the provisions of the federal Clean Air Act as well as local air pollution laws.

> Keep Reading
News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PennEnvironment report highlights Clean Air Act enforcement challenges in Pittsburgh

A new study by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group documents how decades of poor enforcement of air quality rules by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) enabled industrial facilities to pollute the region’s air. The report, entitled Cutting Through the Smoke, found that ACHD has enabled pollution through slow permitting and weak enforcement. The report, coming on the heels of the departure of ACHD’s Director, makes recommendations for how the new Director can improve enforcement techniques and in turn better protect residents from dangerous air pollution.

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News Release | PennEnvironment

PennEnvironment delivers 6,000 clean air petition signatures to Allegheny County

PennEnvironment members and activists delivered a clean air petition with 6,000 signatures to Allegheny County Council. The petition called on County Council to work with the Health Department to rein in dangerous emissions from major air polluters by setting health-based emissions limits, closing the backlog of expired and un-issued permits and enforcing strict penalties for companies that break the law. 

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News Release | PennEnvironment

BREAKING: Environmental response to U.S. Steel plant running without critical pollution controls AGAIN

In response to the announcement that U.S.Steel's Clariton Coke Works is again operating without critical pollution controls, PennEnvironment issued the following statement: 

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News Release | PennEnvironment

PennEnvironment Response to Today's South Philly Refinery Fire

At approximately 3:15 am this morning, a 3-alarm explosion at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery in South Philly rocked local neighborhoods

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