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Western PA Children Breathe In A Lot More Coke Carcinogens Than Other U.S. Kids

Gene J. Puskar
The Clairton Coke Works is owned by U.S. Steel.

On today’s program: PA's Supreme Court kicks the UPMC/Highmark case back down to a lower court; exposure to high levels of pollution may lead to increased risk of childhood cancer; and the final installment of WESA's series Still Working.

UPMC/Highmark case gets another go court
(0:00 – 4:37)

The state Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision Tuesday that the Commonwealth Court must gather more evidence on what UPMC, Highmark and Attorney General Josh Shapiro originally intended from a provision in the five-year consent decree that allowed insurance customers from one system to see medical providers at the other. The court must convene and decide before the agreement expires on June 30. 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden reports both UPMC and Shapiro are claiming victory, while patients are feeling the pinch.

New analysis finds connection between pollution and childhood cancer
(5:01 – 17:08)

A recent analysis from Environmental Health News found kids in Allegheny County are exposed to extremely high levels of carcinogenic chemicals, particularly those from coke ovens, and face much higher rates of cancer than most kids in the U.S.

Kristina Marusic is the reporter behind a series on the link between pollution and cancer risk in Pittsburgh. She spoke to The Confluence’s Megan Harris.

WESA's Still Working says goodbye
(17:50 – 39:10)

The final installment of WESA's Still Working series looks past paid labor, following a job seeker, a volunteer and a retiree to explore how work affects their views of the world. Later, producers Margaret J. Krauss and Kevin C. Brown explore the inspiration behind the podcast and their favorite parts of the series, including interviews with a baseball player, a bus driver and a hot dog cart owner.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca, and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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