Air Pollution

Essential Pittsburgh
5:12 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Lives: CMU's Breathe Cam Photographs Local Air Pollution

Credit Breathe Cam / Breathe Project and CREATELab

Improving air quality continues to be a major challenge in the region, but Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab has collaborated with the Breathe Project and introduced Breathe Cam.

It's designed to give area residents direct access to the world's most sophisticated technology for documenting visual pollution in the air they breathe. CMU Robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh joins us to explain how it works. 

Pittsburgh’s air pollution has improved a great deal over the last few decades, but it still has a long way to go, and the city's air quality remains among the worst in the nation.

Illah Nourbakhsh shares a  haunting statistic about air pollution.

"Air pollution across the US is killing more people than prostate cancer, AIDS and breast cancer put together."

Environment & Energy
7:40 am
Sun November 2, 2014

Online Tool Pinpoints Wood Burning Areas

A Pennsylvania-based clean air activist group has launched a new on-line tool it says will encourage discussion about open wood burning and wood smoke pollution.

The online application launched by The Clean Air Council, called I See Smoke, allows users to pinpoint the area where they are noticing wood smoke pollution on a map. This information is given to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), which can use the data to resolve the issue.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:59 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (and Lungs Too!)

Credit Brett Ciccotelli / Flickr

They are invisible to the naked eye, but atmospheric particles are a critical factor in the climate equation and are responsible for many of the leading causes of death. We’ll talk about the dangers surrounding particulate pollution with Dr. Neil Donahue, professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Environment
2:37 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

County Board of Health Proposes Changes to Air Pollution Regulations

US Steel Clairton Coke Works is a "major source" of air pollution in Allegheny County, emitting more than 100 tons of pollutants each year.
Credit Flickr user roy.luck

Three changes to Allegheny County’s regulations on air pollution will be introduced in County Council Tuesday evening.

According to Jim Thompson, deputy director for environmental health at the Allegheny County Health Department, the most significant proposed change would increase the fees paid by “major sources” of air pollution.

“Prior to this year, large sources were paying $57.50/ton of pollutant emitted,” Thompson said. “Starting this year, it will be $85/ton.”

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Woodstove Roundup
4:53 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Rewards Offered in Woodstove Roundup

Despite the popularity and appeal of summer bonfires, too much wood smoke can cause problems, according to Allegheny County Health Department. The smoke can contain toxins, act as an asthma trigger and prevent neighbors from opening windows to receive cool breezes.

That’s why the ACHD’s Air Quality Program offered rewards for older, uncertified wood furnaces and wood-fired boilers.

On May 17th, 62 woodstoves were collected in North Park, loaded into trucks, and recycled by Tube City IMS.

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Health
12:31 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

County Considers Stricter Regulations on Wood Burning

Allegheny County is considering beefing up regulations around outdoor wood burning.
Credit Flickr user Doug Becker

Julie Burgo was shocked when she was diagnosed with asthma in her 40s. But she had a hunch of what was causing the disorder: her neighbors’ wood burning fireplace.

When she approached her neighbors and told them that their habits were negatively affecting her health and the health of her mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment at the time, she said they retaliated with bigger and more frequent fires.

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Environment & Energy
3:14 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Pennsylvania Reactions Mixed on New Proposed EPA Regulations

Environmental groups are applauding the Obama administration’s proposal to reduce emissions from power plants while many in the energy industry, namely in coal, are panning it.

“This is a ground-breaking moment for Pennsylvania, for the nation, for the globe,” said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center.

The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance sees it differently.

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Health
2:32 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

County Health Department Seeking Public Participation

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is asking for public feedback on its 2014 Air Monitoring Network Review, an annual report listing where and how air pollution is being measured.

The 78-page document, required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes the location of monitoring stations, the process used to monitor the air and the pollutants detected at each location.

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Pittsburgh Air Pollution
8:47 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Particulate Pollution Down, Smog Up in Pittsburgh

A new report shows that Pittsburgh’s air quality has improved – but it still received failing grades.

That’s according to the American Lung Association’s 15th annual “State of the Air” report measuring the amount of pollution throughout the nation.  The study found that 147.6 million Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:42 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Corbett's New Pollution Plan Fails to Address the Top Polluters, Says Sierra Club

Credit Dane Summerville / Flickr

This past Saturday, Governor Corbett and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published a draft plan intended to reduce dangerous smog pollution that puts nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvanians’ health at risk.

However, some feel the expected plan falls short, failing to set meaningful limits on smog-causing pollution from the state’s largest emitters – coal-fired power plants.

Kim Teplitzky, deputy press secretary of the Sierra Club said all of South Western PA has been designated unsafe in terms of air quality by the EPA. She compares the breathing in of smog pollution to a sunburn on your lungs. 

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Air Pollution
2:41 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

County Collects Woodstoves, Boilers to Reduce Pollution

Woodstoves and boilers might have helped keep homes warm over the winter, but they also could have harmed the environment.

That’s why for the second year, the Allegheny County Health Department is collecting old woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers that do not meet the current national emission standards.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:51 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Tracking the "Secret" Life of Soot

Daniel Tkacik studies soot particles from vehicles in his temporary lab: the Fort Pitt Tunnel in Pittsburgh.
Credit Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Breathing in the tiny particles emitted by automobile engines and power plants has been widely accepted by scientists and the public as being something to avoid.

But for a long time it was believed that these tiny particles, known as soot, were the sole toxic ingredient entering the lungs.  However, Reid Frazier of the Allegheny Front has discovered quite a different story. Scientists have found that soot leads a “secret life” after being released into the air, during which it picks up gases and other poisonous hitchhikers.  Before the soot actually enters the lungs these particles go through a unique evolution that involves a surprising combination of molecules.

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Air Quality
11:34 am
Tue May 28, 2013

EPA School Flag Program Monitors Pittsburgh Region’s Air Quality

Credit airnow.gov

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are partnering on the so-called School Flag Program, which debuted last week at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park.

“The School Flag Program was developed by the EPA, and it’s an engaging, hands-on way for students to inform their entire school and community about the region’s air quality and then to take necessary steps to minimize their exposure to high levels of air pollution,” said Karrie Kressler, of GASP.

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Pollution
2:49 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Pittsburgh Air Is Getting Cleaner, But It's Still Dirty

Pittsburgh’s air has gotten cleaner, but the city still ranks as one of the most polluted in the country.

That's according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report released Wednesday. According to the report, Pittsburgh ranks eighth in year-round particle pollution, the mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air. These particles can increase the risk of heart and lung disease and adverse birth outcomes.

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