Statement: Allegheny County receives another failing grade for air pollution

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Zachary Barber

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PITTSBURGH — Allegheny County again received straight “F” grades in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report, making it one of only 13 counties nationwide to do so. The Pittsburgh Metro ranked ninth- worst for soot pollution in the study, which was released Wednesday. This type of pollution is linked to health problems such as asthma, heart disease, stroke and premature death.

PennEnvironment’s Clean Air Advocate Zachary Barber released the following statement: 

“Failing grades should be a wake up call to local leaders: Allegheny County’s polluted air is jeopardizing the health of local residents and holding the region back. Sadly, these warnings have gone long unheeded and Allegheny County’s leaders have accepted these failing grades on air quality.

“A few weeks ago, our leaders celebrated the region’s air quality for being on pace to comply with federal pollution limits for the first time. Yet in the time since, we’ve racked up more than a half-dozen violations on limits for soot and foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide pollution.

“It’s clear that we aren’t doing enough. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Health Department need to step up their efforts to rein in harmful air pollution from Allegheny County’s ‘Toxic Ten’ industrial emitters. 

“Swift action is needed to clean up the industrial polluters driving these toxic emissions.It’s time to close dangerous loopholes that have allowed U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works to pollute at high, unsafe levels and to set strict, health-based emissions limits for all of the Toxic Ten.

“This report underscored something we already knew: Lax federal clean air standards are exposing millions of Americans, and many here in the Pittsburgh region, to dangerous levels of air pollution. The Biden administration should not repeat the Trump administration’s dangerous inaction and must take quick action to bring these standards in line with the recommendations of health experts.”


PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit