Pittsburghers hold ‘Toxic Ten Week’ to clean up region’s air pollution

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Zachary Barber

Hundreds of local residents participate and call on local officials to curb industrial pollution

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PITTSBURGH — As local officials fail to protect Pittsburghers from air pollution, local organizations and concerned citizens are kicking off “Toxic Ten Week,” a campaign with daily activities meant to spur officials in Allegheny County to action.

Participants in Toxic Ten Week are calling on local officials to take the following steps:

  • Issue up-to-date Clean Air Act operating permits for the Toxic Ten facilities;

  • Set strict pollution limits on the Clairton Coke Works;

  • Increase penalties for Toxic Ten facilities that regularly release illegal levels of pollution and break the law;

  • Properly fund the Allegheny County Health Department so that it has the resources needed to properly implement and enforce the Clean Air Act. 

Zachary Barber, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s Clean Air Advocate and Toxic Ten Week coordinator, issued the following statement:

“For far too long, the Pittsburgh region’s worst-of-the-worst polluters have been given carte blanche to darken our skies with haze and put our health at risk. Toxic Ten Week is a concerted online campaign to convince local leaders that it is not acceptable to let the dirtiest facilities pollute this great city.

“Data shows that the Toxic Ten facilities are responsible for more than 70 percent of the industrial air pollution reported in Allegheny County. Yet, incredibly, several of the facilities have never been issued the required Clean Air Act permits. And several have been allowed to violate pollution laws with little more than a slap on the wrist. 

“We’ve seen progress in recent years, but Pittsburghers know that ‘better’ isn’t good enough. For example, U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works recently spewed a plume of brown smoke over Braddock, serving as a stark reminder that there is much more work to do to protect our health and our families. 

“Toxic Ten Week gives concerned Pittsburghers the information and online tools they need to remain engaged civically while at home during the pandemic. Pittsburghers know clean air is a right and not a privilege, and they’re going to make sure our elected officials in Allegheny County embrace that.



The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is a statewide non-profit environmental group dedicated to protecting our water, air and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. To learn more about this or other priorities for the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, visit our website at www.PennEnvironmentcenter.org.