<<UPDATE: The new Air Toxics Guidelines PASSED on November 7, 2012. When a final version is ready we will post it here.>>
In June 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency released their National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) report. The report indicated that residents of Clairton and Glassport are exposed to toxic air pollutants that make their risk of getting cancer around 20 times greater than the national average. Specifically, the report calculated the cancer risk for Clairton residents at 762 in 1 million, and for Glassport residents at 700 in 1 million—the third and fourth highest risk rates in the nation.
The National Air Toxics Assessment, based on 2002 air emissions data, helps federal, state, local, and tribal governments identify areas and specific pollutants for further evaluation to better understand risks they may pose. Air toxics are of concern because they are known to cause or are suspected of causing cancer and other serious health problems, including birth defects. The report assessed 180 air toxics plus diesel particulate matter from stationary sources of all sizes, and from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, buses, and construction equipment.
The current Allegheny County Air Toxics Guidelines were developed in 1988 and utilize decades-old air quality standards. Our understanding of the health effects of many of these chemicals has grown significantly since 1988. In order to protect our health it is critical that the threshold levels of these harmful chemicals be updated to reflect current science.
After years of work a committee, chaired by Board of Health member Dr. Donald Burke, has finished crafting new guidelines. GASP was a member of this committee. Public comments were being accepted on these Guidelines until August 13, 2012. Read the guidelines here as well as GASP’s comments made to ACHD in August and in September 2012.