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Liberty-Clairton Area AGAIN Tops List of Areas with Worst Air Quality, Punctuating Need for Swift ACHD Action

The Allegheny County Health Department’s air quality monitor in Liberty AGAIN registered the worst air quality in the nation Monday morning. AirNow.gov reported that the area had an AQI in the red, meaning everyone in the area “may begin to experience health effects” and that “members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.”

The Health Department’s air quality dashboard indicates that AQI in the Liberty-Clairton area reached the orange, unhealthy-for-sensitive-populations range at midnight. It entered the red range at 2 a.m. and peaked at 166 two hours later.

It remained in the red at the time of publication.

While ACHD regularly issues air dispersion reports, the last one published on the department’s website was dated Feb. 14, meaning it is unclear at present how long the poor air quality will last.

Air pollution near Clairton Coke Works isn’t a weather-related anomaly—it’s a year-round issue impacting the day-to-day lives of local residents. The concentration of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) at the Liberty monitor exceeded the state’s 24-hour average air quality standard 46 times last year. It averaged 0.017 ppm from midnight through 8 a.m. Monday, which means it is mathematically impossible to have a 24-hr average below the 0.005 ppm standard again today.

ACHD committed to revising the county’s coke oven regulations nearly two years ago, yet we are still waiting. “It’s well past time ACHD prioritize strengthening the county’s coke-oven regulations,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “How many more exceedances do there need to be before this is put on the front burner? Residents are suffering now, and need swift action from ACHD now because we all deserve clean air and it’s ultimately up to them to make that happen.”

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