EXPLAINER | Air Quality
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Air Quality

Several Pennsylvania cities place among the top 25 most polluted in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association, which uses data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

A coalition of eight Northeast states wants the EPA to crack down on air pollution coming from the Midwest. Pennsylvania has not signed the petition yet.

Mark H. Anbinder/Flickr

And many Pennsylvania counties, too, fare poorly in ALA ratings on ozone and particle pollution. Of 36 counties for which the organization had data, 16 received a grade of D or F for ozone levels. Of 25 counties with data, nine received a D or F for particle pollution.
The rise in use of natural gas over coal has contributed to a decrease in particulate matter in Pennsylvania’s air. A 2015 report by the United Health Foundation, using EPA data, showed that the state’s air pollution — measured by the public’s exposure to particulate matter — decreased each year but one since 2003.
However, in that report, Pennsylvania still ranked 48th in air quality in the U.S.

Latest stories

US Steel's Clairton Coke Works.

U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant, the largest coke works in North America, in Clairton, Pa.

‘Razorblades and feathers in my throat’: A fire at a U.S. Steel plant near Pittsburgh made a major polluter even worse

Pollution controls damaged by a Christmas Eve fire are working again. But many people in nearby communities are still feeling the effects — and worrying about their health.

By Reid Frazier

Democratic state lawmakers held a hearing on the Clairton Coke Works fire and subsequent air quality issues Thursday, drawing a large crowd of steelworkers and Mon Valley residents to the Clairton Municipal Building.

US Steel's Clairton Coke Works

US Steel's Clairton Coke Works

Residents question air-quality notification delay after Clairton Coke Works fire

Some people, including Clairton’s mayor, said they didn’t hear about the fire — and the air quality problems — until more than two weeks after the fire.

By Reid Frazier

Collette Williams and her son SaVaughn, 13, live a few blocks from the Clairton Coke Works.

East Liverpool, Ohio sits along the Ohio River at the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

For struggling Ohio town, polluting industries have brought needed jobs. Now it’s happening again

East Liverpool, just across the Pennsylvania border northwest of Pittsburgh, has a history of welcoming polluting businesses because people need the jobs. But some residents fault city leaders and regulators for failing to protect them.

By Julie Grant, The Allegheny Front

US Steel's Clairton Coke Works, near Pittsburgh.

The coal-fired Cheswick Generating Station produces electricity northeast of Pittsburgh.

Scott Reynolds, owner of Express Transmission in Beaver County, shows an array of gas cap adapters. The adapters are used as a part of Pennsylvania's vehicle emission testing program.

Could some counties scrap the annual vehicle emissions test? A study aims to figure that out

One argument against keeping the tests: Most cars pass., and newer cars have better emission controls. Plus, one lawmaker said, why should neighboring counties have different sets of rules?

By Amy Sisk