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.
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.
The county, home to U.S. Steel’s Clairton plant, is trying to bring particulate matter down to federally mandated levels by 2021.
The lawsuit alleges that the company’s decision to flare coke oven gas, instead of stopping the coke-making process or putting the plant on hot idle, put public health at risk.
‘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.
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.