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Allegheny County Health Department to Begin Sending Mon Valley Air Quality Alerts

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced in a press release Friday that, beginning on Monday, April 12, it will begin providing public alerts for the Mon Valley when air quality forecasts indicate a potential for poor air quality. The notices are part of regulations currently moving through the Local Health Administration Law process, but the step by ACHD provides notice now for residents in the Mon Valley of the potential for poor air quality.

Here’s the release:

“While we are moving closer to having regulations in place that will require industries to take responsible action during poor air quality days, there have been too many incidents in the past few months to wait any longer,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, ACHD Director. “With the urging and support of the County Executive, the department will follow the spirit of the regulations, providing public notice of the potential for poor air quality, or the exceedance of the PM2.5 threshold at the Liberty monitor. We are hopeful that the sources in the Mon Valley will join us in this proactive step, acting responsibly to benefit the community in which they are located.”

The regulations currently being developed by the Health Department would monitor weather forecasts provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. When atmospheric conditions in those forecasts are projected to exceed a threshold level for the Mon Valley, companies emitting pollutants would be required to implement plans to reduce their emissions.

The Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode Regulations also provides for the issuance of a watch or warning based on an air quality forecast. The regulations were reviewed by the Rules Subcommittee of the Air Advisory Committee with the Air Advisory Committee scheduled to consider the regulations at its April meeting. The Board of Health could consider the regulation change and send it out for public comment at its May meeting with final review and approval later this year.

The regulations would apply for sources within, or contributing to air quality within, the following municipalities: Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Clairton, Dravosburg, Duquesne, East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, Elizabeth Borough, Elizabeth Township, Forest Hills, Forward, Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln, McKeesport, Munhall, North Braddock, North Versailles, Port Vue, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Versailles, Wall, West Elizabeth, West Mifflin, White Oak, Wilkins, Wilmerding and Whitaker. 

The alerts will be sent out using Allegheny Alerts which requires a free subscription. Users can select to receive notifications that they select in the manner in which they choose. Options include email, text, phone and a push notification through the app. To receive the Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode alerts, users should select the “Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode” notification under Allegheny County Health Department alerts, for Air. Visit https://alleghenycounty.us/alerts to sign up, or add a subscription, now.

“GASP and fellow environmental groups have long called on the health department to do more robust communication around air quality,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “GASP thanks ACHD for its efforts to better inform the community about this important public health issue. But we know bad air travels and hope the department will consider providing a heads up for the entire county because air pollution drifts beyond the borders of the Mon Valley.”

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