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Mon Valley Sees 2nd Exceedance of PA Hydrogen Sulfide Air Quality Standard of the Year Wednesday

Another week, another air quality exceedance for the Mon Valley: Concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (also called H2S, which is known by its distinct rotten egg stench) exceeded Pennsylvania’s 24-hour average standard Wednesday at Allegheny County Health Department’s air quality monitor in Liberty Borough.

It was the second such exceedance of the year at that air quality monitor, according to preliminary data.

As a reminder, H2S concentrations at the Liberty monitor exceeded the state 24-hour average standard 54 times last year – which was more than two times 2020’s numbers. There were 18 other such exceedances at Allegheny County Health Department’s air quality monitor in North Braddock Borough.

Despite the regularity with which these exceedances occur – and despite regularly calling on ACHD to better communicate the issue with residents – health department leadership has stayed completely quiet. 

Yes, it issued an H2S-related enforcement action against U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works in April (and an associated press release), but no further information has been provided since then – not on the action specifically or the H2S problem generally.

“GASP takes pride in being an air quality watchdog and helping to keep people informed on when air quality is poor or exceeded standards,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “But residents should be able to expect the people charged with protecting their public health to communicate with them on issues that impact their day-to-day lives.”

He continued:

“We are calling specifically on ACHD COO Patrick Dowd to take swift action to ensure ACHD develops a communications strategy that better informs residents about these H2S exceedances as well as short-term bouts of unhealthy air that threaten public health but do not meet the criteria for a Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode alert.”

Editor’s Note: GASP testified before the Allegheny County Board of Health just last week to implore more and better communications around air quality issues. You can read all about that here.

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Group Against Smog and Pollution