Air Pollution

Amy Sisk / WESA

A damaged pipeline has prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily waive a requirement for a special, cleaner blend of gasoline in Allegheny County during summer months.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Steelworkers, state and county officials, union leaders and business executives piled into the caster maintenance building at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson plant Thursday for an announcement that the company plans over $1 billion in upgrades to its Pittsburgh-area plants.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh’s air quality made headlines last week when the American Lung Association released its annual report: the region was listed among the top 10 most polluted cities in the country.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

U.S. Steel on Thursday appealed a penalty from the Allegheny County Health Department over emissions violations at Clairton Coke Works.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Two lawsuits announced this week stem from air pollution problems tied to the steel industry.

In one, PennFuture, the Sierra Club and other groups seek to force the Environmental Protection Agency to update its standards for coke ovens across the country.

Amy Sisk / WESA

 


Some Allegheny County residents use a smartphone app to report foul smells in their communities, and a new version of that app is now available to the rest of the country.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

After U.S. Steel said repairs at Clairton Coke Works are a month ahead of schedule, the Allegheny County Health Department on Tuesday revised an order against the company that required it to significantly curb emissions from its Mon Valley Works facilities.

Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Allegheny County Health Department is requiring U.S. Steel to curb sulfur dioxide emissions at several Pittsburgh-area facilities following a December fire that damaged pollution control equipment at its plant in Clairton.

Fighting Air Pollution With Stories And Friendship

Dec 14, 2018
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Miriam Maletta opens her hair salon in Clairton, southeast of Pittsburgh, at 11 a.m. on Thursdays. Amid boxes piled boxes piled up on padded chairs, and her Yorkie, Neyno, who dances in little circles on the linoleum floor, Maletta says her salon is finally getting a facelift. She’s been in business for 34 years and she has lived in Clairton all of her life. That’s evident as a cousin or a nephew stops by the shop to drop off Christmas donations for a local family she’s helping, or just to check in.

Carnegie Mellon University

A team of computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a technology that makes run-of-the-mill paper move on its own.

The paper is cut into a shape, such as a flower, and treated with a thin conductor that's either applied by a 3-D printer or painted on. It adds only a half millimeter of thickness. The paper is then folded or bent into a shape and heated in an oven.

At that point, an electrical current, heat, or touch will cause the paper to uncurl; when the stimulus is removed, the paper goes back to its natural curled state.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

US Steel says it will replace equipment, hire more staff, improve training and increase monitoring at its Clairton Coke Works plant.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

It’s a hot July day and 86-year-old John Zavacky is chatting with friends in the South Side Market House’s Senior Center. In the background, an air conditioner hums while drawing the warm outside air into the cavernous main room.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh ranks fourth out of all large U.S. metropolitan areas in the number of days where the air posed moderate-to-serious health risks, according to new analysis from a statewide environmental organization.

Allegheny County Fines U.S. Steel $1M For Clairton Coke Works Air Pollution

Jul 2, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Allegheny County Health Department hit US Steel with a $1 million fine for chronic air pollution from the company’s Clairton Coke Works.

The fine was the largest the department has leveled against Clairton Coke Works in the past 10 years, and the second largest to any facility in that time period, said spokesman Ryan Scarpino.

The Breathe Project

A new initiative aims to employ citizen scientists to monitor air pollution created at U.S. Steel Corporation plants located in the Mon Valley.

Study Finds Health Threats From Oil And Gas Wastewater Spread On Roads

Jun 1, 2018
Courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Spreading oil and gas wastewater has been a common and cheap way for municipalities to suppress dust on unpaved roads in parts of Pennsylvania for years.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Asthma rates among elementary school students in the Northgate School District have dropped significantly since one of the region’s top polluters ended operations in 2016, according to preliminary data.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In its yearly "State of the Air" report, the American Lung Association gave Allegheny County a failing grade for all levels of air pollution.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Steel might soon be paying a fine for several violations of both county and federal environmental protections at its plant in Braddock.

Lawsuits Around Climate Change Are On The Rise

Oct 12, 2017
Matt Wade / flickr

 

This week the Environmental Protection Agency announced it’s repealing the Clean Power Plan. That’s the Obama era rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants in order to fight climate change. The Clean Power Plan never took effect because more than two dozen states sued, arguing the EPA overstepped its legal authority. The Supreme Court had been looking into those claims.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Maryland is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state's attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan's administration said Wednesday.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The day after Pennsylvania, 14 other states and the District of Columbia sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its plan to delay implementation of new clean air standards, the EPA reversed course and says it will implement it on time.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Outside Woodland Hills Academy in Turtle Creek, there’s a little playground with swings, a jungle gym and a couple spring-mounted toy horses. You can’t see it or smell it, but according to data gathered by Carnegie Mellon University, the kids who play there are breathing in about 8 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide and about 5 micrograms per cubic meter of black carbon.

Dale Sparks / AP

The Allegheny County Health Department has reached a settlement with a steel company over emissions violations at its Harrison Township processing facility.

The department ordered Allegheny Technologies Inc., to pay a $50,000 fine to the county’s Clean Air Fund and allow some of its property to be used as a bike lane along the Allegheny River.

Pittsburgh Air Is Still Bad, But It Is Getting Better

Dec 27, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Air quality in western Pennsylvania improved in 2016, according to three regional monitors tracked by the Allegheny County Health Department.

“It was a good year in ozone,” said Jayme Graham, the department's air quality manager.

Flickr user joseph a

It’s no secret that the air quality in Pittsburgh isn’t great. Last month, the American Lung Association ranked southwestern Pennsylvania as having the eighth highest level of year-round pollutants and the fourteenth highest level of short-term particle pollution in the nation.

AIRNow.gov

Pittsburgh’s air quality has a ways to go before it's considered healthy, according to the American Lung Association’s latest State of the Air report.

“We report based on how many unhealthy air days they receive for ozone and daily particle pollution,” said Paul Billings, national senior vice president of advocacy. "We also look at the EPA’s reports for year-round particle pollution as well."

Social Price Tag For Pollution Is Steep, But Dropping

Feb 17, 2016
Matt Niemi / Flickr

Consumers often hear about the economic costs of environmental regulations on the energy industry, but there’s a flip side to that issue — the social price residents collectively pay for burning fossil fuels to produce electricity.

But is there a way to place a dollar amount on the hidden costs of pollution? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University think so.

A Coal Plant Cleans Up In Indiana County

Dec 17, 2015
Keith Srakocic / AP

  Around the country, dozens of coal-fired power plants are racing to install pollution controls to comply with new mercury rules from the Environmental Protection Agency. But how do they keep 100,000 tons of coal-fired pollution out of the air? Install thousands of air filters.

Todd Kollross is managing the $750-million project at the Homer City Generating Station in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Inside the new unit, he shows off what look like hundreds of holes in the floor. Each is lined with a filter bag. They’re basically super-sized Shop Vac filters.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

If you want an update on air quality, look no further than your smartphone.

CREATE Lab, a program of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, and Airviz, a CMU lab spinoff, have developed a smartphone app called SpeckSensor that gives users real-time access to Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers based on their location.

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