Poor air qual­ity

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - National -

It’s no se­cret that Pitts­burgh’s air qual­ity has been bad for years, but now it’s getting worse. U.S. Steel’s Clair­ton plant had a fire on Dec. 24 that dam­aged the pol­lu­tion con­trols and caused $40 mil­lion in dam­ages, ac­cord­ing to the Jan. 31 ar­ti­cle by Daniel Moore, “Re­pairs fol­low­ing Clair­ton Plant Fire Will Cost $40M.”

U.S. Steel does not want to put the plant on hot idle to make the re­pairs. They claim it will cause job cuts, in­crease pol­lu­tion and dam­age their plant. The Clair­ton plant has a his­tory of air pol­lu­tion prob­lems and has paid fines to­tal­ing more than $4 mil­lion un­der terms of en­force­ment ac­tions in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2016. The fines were paid, but our air qual­ity didn’t im­prove.

There has been an in­crease in the sul­fur in our air and it’s getting into my home. I can smell it when I’m try­ing to sleep. The evenings and early morn­ings have been es­pe­cially bad. I can see nu­mer­ous re­ports on Smel­lPgh, an app that re­ports bad odors. I can see un­healthy par­ti­cle mat­ter on the Carnegie Mel­lon Un­vier­sity air qual­ity project page (pghairqual­ity.com). This is a CMU web­site that tracks pol­lu­tion us­ing sen­sors around the re­gion. They mea­sure PM2.5 which is par­tic­u­late mat­ter small enough to get deep in our lungs. It causes res­pi­ra­tory is­sues, heart dis­ease, pre­ma­ture death and can­cer.

Pitts­burgh has been build­ing it­self up. CMU and the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh are renowned uni­ver­si­ties. We have Google and world-class health care in­sti­tu­tions like UPMC, but all of this is over­shad­owed by our air pol­lu­tion.

When will enough be enough? When will county ex­ec­u­tives like Rich Fitzger­ald start tak­ing ac­tion to pro­tect res­i­dents from air pol­lu­tion at the U.S. Steel plants? When will U.S. Steel stop ap­peal­ing fines and prop­erly fil­ter air pol­lu­tion rather than leav­ing it up to the lungs of our res­i­dents?

DAVID BERTENTHAL

Green­field

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