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Report Says Pittsburgh Region Is 4th Worst In Country For Bad Air Days

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A new study ranks the Pittsburgh region the 4th worst major metropolitan region in the country for air pollution.

Every day, coal-fired power plants like the Cheswick Generating Station belch carbon and ash into the air, and even though the plant has new filters and scrubbers, those who live in its shadow share a daily worry.

"Both my kids had asthma, so yeah, I'm concerned," Micki Alberti, of Springdale, said.

cheswick generating station
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Sixty percent of the air pollution in our region comes from industrial sources like that plant and a new report by the group PennEnvironment showed that in 2016, ozone and particulate pollution reached unacceptable levels on 121 days -- one out of every three days.

"The number of bad air days that we have in our region put us at the fourth worst of major metropolitan regions in the United States," Matthew Mehalik, of the Breathe Project, said.

A bad air day is one where smog and particulate pollution poses a moderate-to-severe risk to people, but especially to those with existing health problems.

"There's really no safe level of these pollutants, so even a moderate day can be very challenging for someone with asthma or other respiratory problems or someone with cardiovascular issues," Ashleigh Deemer, of PennEnvironment, said.

A coalition of environmental groups is asking the county health department to step up monitoring and permitting of industrial facilities. They're also asking for the public's help in tracking dangerous plumes on the so-called Breathe Cams on the Breathe Project website, which has cameras on facilities like the Clairton Coke Works.

"We really appreciate people getting engaged," Mehalik said. "It really is crucial, if our region is going to be successful economically in the long term, this air pollution issue needs to be addressed right away."

The report is a call to action, a road map to reduce industrial pollution in the Pittsburgh region and clean up the air for all who live here.

To read PennEnvironment's full report, visit

For more information on the Breathe Project, visit

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