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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.

Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health for the ACHD, said public comments will be accepted through June 20.

“We’re looking at whether or not the citizens feel our monitoring is in the proper locations, whether or not we are monitoring the proper pollutants at each site (and) whether or not the monitoring frequency is appropriate,” he said.

The ACHD currently has 18 monitoring stations across the county. A new station near the Parkway East in Wilkinsburg is expected to be operational in July to measure nitrogen oxide.

Thompson said pollution shouldn’t be taken lightly in western Pennsylvania.

“Air pollution is a very big problem here in Pittsburgh,” he said. “And we do have some very large sources of air pollution.”

The ACHD currently monitors for pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide.

This year, the ACHD began sampling for volatile organic compounds at two sites in order to monitor Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."
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