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Allegheny County seeks public input on new air-monitoring plan

| Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 4:12 p.m.
The sun rises over the Monongahela Valley as smoke slowly rises from U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson Works in Braddock on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.
The sun rises over the Monongahela Valley as smoke slowly rises from U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson Works in Braddock on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

The Allegheny County Health Department is asking for public input on its new air-monitoring plan.

The 2019 Air Monitoring Network Plan, an annual report that describes how and where the county is monitoring air pollution, is available here .

The department's 13 air monitors are in Clairton, Lincoln, Liberty, Glassport, North Braddock, Lawrenceville, Downtown, South Fayette, Manchester, Avalon, Harrison, McCandless and Wilkinsburg.

Each site measures at least one of the following: sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, total reactive nitrogen, ozone, particulate matter and air toxics.

The Liberty monitor, located at South Allegheny Middle/Senior High School in McKeesport, is not meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Act standards for sulfur dioxide or for particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less — small enough to harm human lungs. The rest of the monitors meet EPA standards, said Ryan Scarpino, department spokesman.

Among the changes, the plan proposes to reduce the frequency of particulate matter monitoring at the Avalon site from every three days to every six days.

The plan also proposes adding photochemical assessment monitoring stations in Lawrenceville to measure hourly volatile organic compounds.

Last year, the nonprofit Group Against Smog and Pollution asked for the department to add a sulfur dioxide monitor downwind from the Cheswick Power Station — an addition not included in the new plan.

A recent report by the American Lung Association rated Allegheny County 12th worst in the nation for year-round particle pollution and 25th worst for short-term particle pollution — worse standings than the previous year.

Residents can send comments on the plan, including their first and last name and mailing address, to or by mail to Allegheny County Health Department, Attention: Darrell Stern, Air Quality Program, 301 39th St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201.

The department will accept comments until 4:30 p.m. June 5.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, or via Twitter @tclift.

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