Weather is Causing Worse Pollution in Pittsburgh

Weather is Causing Worse Pollution in Pittsburgh

Clairton and Liberty in Pittsburgh had some of the worst air conditions in the nation according to the Air Quality Index. This has led to the Allegheny County Health Department deciding to try and fight weather caused pollution events. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day in both locations, the air quality was at a Code Orange, which means the pollution was high enough that people with a certain sensitivity would be bothered by it.

There were multiple temperature changes the previous week from extreme weather conditions. Conditions including wind, fog, and a warm front coming through all lead to pollutants being trapped in the surrounding air. This has happened four other times in the past ten years, with two of them being in 2019. The reason for the increase of these events is climate change, which is affecting multiple areas around the world, including Australia right now with its wildfires.

According to activists and residents in the area, weather related events are not the only cause of poor air quality. The executive director of the Breathe Project, Matthew Mehalik, said that the weather impacts the amount of pollution, but it is not the exact cause of it. The problem is that the coke plant’s emissions in the area don’t always blow away. This leads to the pollution staying in the area, causing people to inhale it and become sick.

Weather cannot be relied on to help control pollution. People’s health is too important to rely on windy days to push pollution away from the city. The government needs to step in and protect people in the area because clean air should be a right. People should not have to move or be stuck in an area where pollution is so bad that their health degrades the longer they stay there.

Three steps will be taken by the Health Department to reduce the weather related events in the future. First, air quality regulation, where people will be asked to reduce their emissions output during a temperature inversion, will be utilized. Infrastructure to help predict inversion events will also be used, allowing people to know when something like this will happen in the future to get them to reduce emissions. Finally, local and federal officials will be worked with to help set regulations, ensuring that companies are not polluting the air.

If you or a loved one is now sick due to air pollution, you could be entitled to file a claim. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to one of our staff to learn your options.

Paul Martino, “Allegheny Co. Health Dept. Launches Efforts To Combat Weather-Related Pollution Events” KDKA TV (January 2, 2020). [Link]

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