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Air quality in Pittsburgh area improves, but there's still 'much to do'

| Thursday, April 20, 2017, 5:48 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
FirstEnegy's Mitchell Power Plant, in Union, Washington County, Wednesday, September 18, 2013, is one of three power stations that are the subject of a 2005 lawsuit by Pennsylvania and four other states who claim the utility ignored air pollution laws for more than two decades.

The Greater Pittsburgh area experienced fewer days of high particle air pollution from 2013 to 2015 than ever before, according to an American Lung Association report.

That's a big improvement from the 2008 report, when the Pittsburgh area was ranked the nation's “most polluted city” in the same category, the association's 2017 State of the Air report said.

Pittsburgh is one of eight areas nationwide that achieved its best air quality levels ever for year-round particle pollution, according to the report. The Harrisburg/York/Lebanon area was also named as one of the eight.

Despite the improvement, Allegheny County is still listed as 13th worst in the country for people being at risk for year-round particle pollution in 2017, the report said, a failing grade in that category.

“We recently met the short-term fine particulate EPA standard and the ozone EPA standard,” Allegheny County Health Department's executive director, Dr. Karen Hacker, said in a prepared statement. “We soon expect to meet the annual particulate value.

“While we are proud of these improvements, and thank our public advocates and industry for their contributions, we still have much to do. Simply meeting the standard is not enough and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to improve the air quality in Allegheny County that impacts the health of the public.”

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or tclift@tribweb.com.

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