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Public Input Sought by Board of Health Air Toxics Guidelines Committee

The Allegheny County Board of Health will hold a public meeting from 6:00 to 8:00 PM this evening at the Clairton Municipal Building (551 Ravensburg Blvd.).

Dr. Donald Burke, dean of the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, chairs the 22-member committee formed in January, 2010 to revise air toxics guidelines that haven't been changed since 1988. He says the last public meeting took place about a year ago in Avalon.

While air pollution in the region is no longer as visible as it once was, Pittsburgh is still cited for bad air quality. Burke says the guidelines are not regulations and are not intended to deal with the overall problem of air pollution. They will, however, apply to permits for new facilities or those being significantly modified that release chemicals that cause cancer or other types of long-term health effects.

"You do this one step at a time … by having these guidelines … it says the future will be better," said Burke.

According to Burke, the committee is using information on air toxics from the EPA and the state of California to apply to the local situation. He says the group is "close" to proposing revised guidelines. An earlier committee worked on new guidelines from 2005 to 2009, but its proposals were not adopted by the Board of Health.