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Pittsburgh can be a leader in reducing diesel emissions

Last week, GASP, Clean Water Action, and Pittsburgh United were joined by several local physicians and a number of other organizations representing labor, environment, health, and faith to call on Pittsburgh City Council to take back up the Clean Air Act of 2010. The Clean Air Act of 2010 is clean construction legislation that would require contractors and construction companies working on large, publicly subsidized projects to utilize cleaner construction equipment.

The focus of the press conference was to let City Council members know that they’d be receiving a letter supporting passage of the Clean Air Act signed by 35 local medical professionals. The letter pointed out that diesel pollution creates serious public health hazards. Diesel exhaust contains over 40 toxic air contaminants, carcinogens, ozone-forming elements, as well as fine particulate matter (“soot”). Exposure to fine particles causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, strokes, and premature deaths.

Cleaning up construction equipment emissions is a vital strategy in protecting the public from the dangers of diesel exhaust. Nationwide, there are over 2 million pieces of construction equipment in use and most lack pollution controls. In Allegheny County emissions from construction vehicles make up a considerable portion of the county’s diesel pollution.

We all know Pittsburgh’s air quality continues to be some of the dirtiest in the nation, with especially high levels of fine particulates from both stationary and mobile sources of pollution. Reducing diesel emissions is something the City of Pittsburgh can do to help clean up our region’s poor air quality. Learn more about the Clean Construction legislation here.

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