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'It's Making Clairton Sick': Poor Air Quality Impacting Clairton, Liberty Areas

CLAIRTON, Pa. (KDKA) — The Air Quality Index showed that the Clairton and Liberty areas had some of the worst air quality over the past couple of days.

Throughout Johnie Perryman's Clairton home, he's strategically placed six air filters to help with the pollution he said is in the air.

He also wears a mask.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"It's changing Clairton," Perryman said. "It's taking the energy out of Clairton and it's making Clairton sick."

Over the weekend and into Monday, the air quality in the town was deemed unhealthy based on the county's pollution charts.

It's not a new thing with the U.S. Steel Coke plant along the river.

A fire at the steel plant one year ago caused high pollution levels into the spring, and the nonprofit Clean Water Action is leading an effort to make sure the air stays clean.

"We had several days in a row where U.S. Steel was violating the levels that they are required to be under for this kind of fine particle pollution in the area," said Myron Arnowitt with Clean Water Action.

The group sent out a warning to residents about the dangerous levels on Monday and called on the Allegheny County Health Department to do the same, but the health department told KDKA that a weather pattern trapped the pollutants in the area.

"We've been in contact with U.S. Steel, and there have been no reports of unusual activity. Our inspectors haven't observed anything out of the ordinary at facilities in the Mon Valley, and all facilities in the Mon Valley are operating within their permit limits," said Jim Kelly, the Allegheny County deputy director of environmental health.

Kelly told KDKA they will continue to monitor the situation, but residents want a solution to the bigger problem.

WATCH: KDKA's Amy Wadas Reports From The Studio On The Air Quality.

"When it comes to the plant, it don't just stop at the border of Clairton, the border of Pittsburgh or even the border of Pennsylvania," Perryman said.

KDKA did reach out to U.S. Steel for comment on these higher pollution levels but did not hear back from them by airtime.

The DEP says it is forecasting a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day on Dec. 24 for the Liberty-Clairton area in Allegheny County.

You can submit an air quality complaint by calling 412-687-2243 or by clicking here.

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