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GASP Applauds Allegheny County Health Department’s New Air Monitoring Study in Swissvale

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) on Thursday announced that it had commenced an air toxics monitoring study outside the Kopp Glass facility in Swissvale.

According to the ACHD website, the study is designed to determine the relative health risks to the community from hazardous air pollutants such as cadmium, arsenic, and others associated with increased risks of cancer and other diseases.

This isn’t the first time such a study was conducted near the site: A previous study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluated levels of metal hazardous air pollutants at Kopp Glass and other art glass manufacturers across the county. ACHD assisted in this study.

Although the EPA considered the results of that study to be within the agency’s “range of acceptability” for excess cancer risks, ACHD decided to conduct its own air monitoring on the property “to further study the health risk to the public.”

ACHD indicated that the Air Quality Program began collecting samples on June 14. The department also noted that it has retained a lab and toxicologist to assist in the analysis of those samples. The new monitor is scheduled to be online through June 13, 2021 and will take and analyze a total of 60 samples.

According to the ACHD website:

At this time, the data demonstrate lower levels of metal hazardous air pollutants at the community monitor compared with the data taken on-site at Kopp Glass during EPA’s 2017 study. However, the data is limited. It is the opinion of the ACHD and the toxicologist it has retained, that there should be data from at least three months before the community health risk can be assessed. The Health Department will make the data public at that time.

ACHD has also been in discussions with Kopp Glass to limit their emissions of metal hazardous air pollutants. Kopp Glass has cooperated in this process and has identified voluntary measures to reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions.

During its discussions with Kopp Glass, ACHD also determined that it was subject to federal air quality regulations applicable to glass manufacturing facilities. A copy of the ACHD’s determination is available here.

On July 27, 2020, the ACHD ordered Kopp Glass to submit a plan for compliance with the EPA regulations and to submit a Title V Permit application to the ACHD. A full copy of the order is available here.

“We are pleased to see the health department embarking on this new air toxics study and we look forward to seeing the results once they are made public,” said GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini.

She continued: “GASP thanks the Allegheny County Health Department for not only initiating the air toxics monitoring study but for the wealth of information that is on its website. When we talk about transparency and regular, helpful communications to the public, this is the kind of thing we are talking about. I hope this is a sign of things to come from the new administration.”

More information on the program can be found on the ACHD website.

Editor’s Note: Kopp Glass Inc. on July 1 appealed an Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) determination that one of its pot furnaces is subject to National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for glass manufacturing area sources. You can read more about that on our blog.

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