Pittsburgh Most Polluted

Pittsburgh got less than a week to bask in its recovered "most livable city" glory before the American Lung Association came out with this not-such-a-stunner:

Rated on the quality of its air, Pittsburgh is the second most polluted city in the United States. Here's a county-by-county breakdown of PA's State of the Air.

More recent local data show local particulate counts headed downward, which is good news. It's fine to get all choked up about living in a livable city, but no one wants to take that advice too literally.

Out in California, the Governator is so incensed by the fact that Los Angeles is #1 in the rankings that he's threatening to sue the EPA to allow him to impose stricter air quality rules than the ones provided under federal law. Here in Allegheny County, we're fighting over whether people should be allowed to smoke in bars and restaurants. Priorities! If the smokers want to smoke, then let them smoke alone. Patronize smoke-free restaurants. Here's a list.


8 Responses to "Pittsburgh Most Polluted"

Schultz said... 5/01/2007 10:03 PM

Mike - you beat me to the punch on this one! The Pittsburgh region ranks as having poor air quality year after year - but no one is doing anything about it!

Schultz said... 5/01/2007 10:13 PM

By the way - I disagree with you on the smoking ban. Second hand smoke is just as bad or worse than soot. I'm all for individual freedoms but when I go to a restaurant why should I have to breathe lung cancer causing secondhand smoke?

Mike Madison said... 5/02/2007 7:35 AM

I'm a skeptic of the smoking ban only because I think that the voters of Allegheny County don't have the political will to sustain it, and because there are bigger public health priorities to pursue. In the abstract, I do think that the ban is a good idea, and I don't have a lot of patience for the "personal rights of smokers" argument.

Anonymous said... 5/02/2007 12:26 PM

We may not be as polluted as it appears. The readings may be skewed because one pollution monitor is located very close to U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works. That particular coke works is an especially bad polluter.

As for the smoking ban being delayed again, I blame the judges who can't seem to make up their minds about it. Obviously the county *is* capable of making the decision, since they passed it. It's just these darn judges who keep putting things on hold.

Schultz said... 5/02/2007 8:26 PM

Anonymous - I've seen us ranked as having very poor air quality every year since I've lived in Pittsburgh (10+ years). Do you mean to tell me that all of those readings are BS and our local politicians have done nothing to correct the location of the pollution monitors?

I've seen this mentioned on my blog before, probably by you, so do you mind directing me to some factual evidence to your claim? Thanks.

Ben J.D. said... 5/03/2007 4:41 PM

Air pollution from industrial sources and from automobiles--big contributors--is very much an interstate problem because of wind and the jet stream. I wouldn't be surprised at all if much of our problem arises from the jet stream carrying noxious particulates from steel mills and the like in Ohio and West Virginia. To the extent that is true, there is nothing that the legislators in Harrisburg can do about it. Lobby Congress instead.

What the legislators in Harrisburg can do something about, and what the Allegheny County folks were smart enough to do something about is tobacco smoke. The adverse health effects of second-hand tobacco smoke are well known, well documented, and severe. The adverse health effects of air pollution of some form that nets Pittsburgh the "second most polluted" moniker are not as well known. Moreover, as one commenter pointed out, the readings could have been profoundly affected by the location of the monitoring station.

The smoking ban is common sense, and it should be a high priority. That is, if protecting human health is a higher priority than good publicity for the region.

RichW said... 5/09/2007 1:18 PM

The smoking ban is inevitable. It will put some small neighborhood folks out of biz (the kind of bars that affluent folks and their kids don't visit - and that don't get covered by surveys).

That said, I don't mind a smoking ban - had the free market worked to create a solution, it would've done so by now.

Still, I wish the restaurant association and their lobbyists had extracted SOMETHING in exchange, most notably a price break from the LCB.

As someone who was born and raised in the Northeast, I can tell you that the Pa. LCB does as much, if not more, to give this state a backwards, non-progressive image than does the presence of lots of old people (although lack of jobs trumps both).

As a small business owner, we've been able to integrate elder folks into our biz. But we still can't get the bottles of wine we want at a reasonable price like we could in NY, CT or MA.

That's my gripe. Thank you for loaning the space to present it.

Anonymous said... 5/11/2007 10:06 AM

Not sure if I'm the one who mentioned it before or not. I don't remember bringing it up, but I may have. I have heard it said by many other people, though.

Here are some articles that talk about it:

Post Gazette

Pitt News

Tribune Review

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About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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