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Environment & Energy

Trapped Air Caused A Bad Smell In Pittsburgh Thursday

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Katie Blackley
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90.5 WESA

It smelled bad in Pittsburgh this morning.

Low inversion layers trapped pollutants in the air closer to the ground. Inversions are common, occurring when a layer of cold air becomes trapped underneath warm air. While inversions tend to dissipate throughout the day as temperatures warm up, the root cause of the bad smell shouldn’t be ignored as the odor goes away, said Rachel Filippini, executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution.

“Inversions are a natural weather phenomenon. They happen all over the world,” Filippini said. “But if there's not pollution in the air being trapped closer to the ground, they're really not an issue.”

In an update this afternoon, Allegheny County Health Department spokesman Chris Togneri said department teams haven’t determined the source of the odor. There is no information that the smell is harmful to any population, including sensitive residents, he said in a statement.

Filippini said she wants the Health Department to investigate the pollutant and prevent noxious odors from engulfing the region in the future.

“It's frustrating because we know that inversions do trap pollution closer to the ground for longer periods of time, but they are not the source of the pollution,” Filippini said. “They didn't create the pollution, and they don't create the noxious odors.”

In the statement, Togneri l said the ACHD will investigate to determine whether enforcement action is necessary as a result of the smell.