There's a silver lining to today's news headlines. Pittsburgh is no longer ranked worse in the nation in terms of air quality. However, we're still ranked third worst in terms of daily soot pollution, and fifth worst in terms of year-round soot pollution.
Guillermo Cole, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department, said air quality in the region is improving, but objected again to the Lung Association's use of soot readings from the Liberty monitor -- usually the highest in the county -- to characterize the whole region.
To Guillermo Cole, I say the following often-remembered quote:
"Every society is judged by how it treats the least fortunate amongst them." - Thomas Douglas
In Pittsburgh, in terms of air, our residents of Liberty-Clairton are the least fortunate. Area-wide, our air quality results in 4 times the national average of child asthma emergency room visits. The EPA says that the cancer risks for some County residents is 20 times the national average.The fight is not over.
At the county and state level, we need to update our antiquated air toxic guidelines. At every level, we need to continue retro-fitting our old diesel school buses and public transportation vehicles to improve our air quality. Upcoming Pittsburgh city council legislation promoted by Clean Water Action will require any city-sponsored projects that uses diesel vehicles to retrofit the vehicles to reduce the pollutants released. I beg city council and the mayor to pass this legislation quickly. There is also a program to retrofit Allegheny County's 2000 school buses. I urge every parent to insist that your child's school participates in this program.
The air is improving in Allegheny county, but it is not enough to be third worst.