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Hotline, Summer 2002

by Suzanne Seppi, GASP Executive Director

Over the course of many years, GASP has consistently received odor complaints from the community. Recently, one individual who drives a bus each day in the Kennedy township area said that the air is just foul most afternoons. Another resident in this same area is selling her home and moving because of the odors. According to the Air Quality Division (AQD) of the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), there are 1100 air quality complaints annually. Residents should know that it is important to call the Foul Air Hotline at (412) 687-ACHD (2243) each and every time there is an offensive odor or other air complaint. Do not assume the AQD knows about the problem. The more people that call, the better the AQD is able to recognize problems that need to be addressed.

GASP Billboard To help educate residents, GASP has placed several lively billboards and bus shelter signs in the Neville Island area announcing the Foul Air Hotline telephone number. The picture of the billboard accompanying this article is at the intersection of Route 65 and the McKees Rocks Bridge.

To help remedy the odor problem, GASP President Walter Goldburg, who sits on the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee, proposed that Allegheny County upgrade their odor response actions. The main points of the proposal are below (the entire proposal was printed in the Winter 2002 issue of the Hotline).

  • Increase the responsiveness of the air quality inspectors by changing the determinants for when inspectors go out to investigate odors.
  • Provide reports of odor investigations and measurements to the complainants as soon as possible and to the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee at least quarterly.
  • Purchase modern equipment that would assist the department inspectors when on sight to determine the identity or identities of odors using money from the Clean Air Fund if necessary.

After several subcommittee meetings and investigations by ACHD staff, it was decided that a piece of equipment known as the electronic zNoseTM would upgrade abilities by the air quality inspectors to identify odors in a timely manner. This is a portable piece of equipment that can quantitatively separate, identify, and measure the chemistry of any fragrance, odor, vapor, or smell with part-per-billion accuracy. It also maintains calibration for months.

A proposal to purchase this piece of equipment with funds from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund was recently passed by the Allegheny County Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee and has been sent to the Board of Health for approval. The request includes the cost of the equipment, accessories, spare parts, training, travel for training and a demonstration.

Additionally, the Health Department agreed to regularly provide the Advisory Committee with updates on the odor complaints in the county including the nature, location, numbers, days of occurrence and corrective action. The residents submitting complaints would also be updated on the resolutions to the odor complaints.

If you have an odor issue in Allegheny County that is not being adequately addressed, call the Foul Air Hotline at (412) 687-ACHD (2243) and call GASP at (412) 441-6650.