Uncovering Pittsburgh’s biggest air polluters
Caption: Members and supporters join PennEnvironment’s Zach Barber at a rally calling for clean air.
The Pittsburgh region ranks in the nation’s top 2 percent for cancer caused by air pollution, and a recent report by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center found that just a handful of Pittsburgh facilities are releasing the majority of this hazardous air pollution.
“Toxic Ten” uncovered the facilities responsible for emissions of chemicals known to cause cancer, respiratory ailments and other health effects. We created an interactive website to help Pittsburgh residents identify, report and track air pollution from these facilities in their communities.
After the report’s release, nearly 100 residents joined PennEnvironment at a rally calling on local officials to address ongoing air pollution issues in the region. “Clean air is a right, not a privilege,” said PennEnvironment’s Zach Barber. “It’s time for local officials to rein in the Toxic Ten and properly protect our health.”
Read the “Toxic Ten” report here.
Protecting kids from dangerous lead
Caption: PennEnvironment’s Stephanie Wein (second from right) joins Rep. Karen Boback to introduce H.B. 2025, a bill that would help get the lead out of drinking water in Pennsylvania’s schools.
Parents should be able to send their kids to school confident that the water flowing from drinking fountains and other taps is free of lead contamination. In 2016, PennEnvironment helped win some of the nation’s toughest lead standards for Philadelphia’s schools—and we recently helped draft legislation to take those protections statewide.
Introduced in March by state Rep. Karen Boback, H.B. 2025 will keep kids safe by requiring schools to set lower thresholds for lead, conduct regular tests, inform the public of all test results, and shut off fountains and sinks that don’t meet standards. The bill has bipartisan support from more than 50 cosponsors.
“In an era of political gridlock and hyper-partisanship, it’s exciting that our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle can come together to protect our children from the threat of lead in our drinking water,” said PennEnvironment’s Stephanie Wein.
Let’s end polystyrene pollution
Every day, people throw away tons of plastic “stuff”—cups, containers, bags and more. Too often, this waste washes into our rivers and streams where it harms wildlife. For a bird, fish or turtle, it’s easy to mistake a small piece of plastic for food—especially when there are millions of pieces of plastic floating in the water.
Sadly, ingesting these fragments is often fatal. Animals can starve when they eat too much plastic that they can’t digest, and toxic chemicals in plastic can harm animals’ health—and make their way up the food chain to people.
For decades, we’ve known that one of the worst forms of plastic pollution is polystyrene, or what most of us call Styrofoam. Polystyrene breaks apart easily, but it persists in our environment in tiny particles. Incredibly, every bit of it ever made is still out there and could continue to threaten wildlife for hundreds of years to come.
Nothing we use once should pollute our rivers and streams for hundreds of years—especially when we don’t need it. With your support, we’re urging our leaders in Pennsylvania to ban polystyrene foam cups and containers and choose wildlife over waste.
Add your name to our petition here.
Getting Pennsylvania to 100% renewable energy
We have the power to get all the energy Pennsylvania needs from the sun and the wind, and this spring, Pennsylvania legislators took an important step in this direction with the introduction of bipartisan, PennEnvironment-backed legislation.
Introduced by Philadelphia state Rep. Chris Rabb and Bucks County state Sen. Charles McIlhinney, this historic legislation would commit the state to reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, ensuring that Pennsylvania meets the global warming pollution reductions necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This groundbreaking proposal is the first bill of its kind with a Republican primary sponsor.
“With its longstanding history of coal mining and fracking, Pennsylvania has been a major culprit for far too long when it comes to climate change,” said PennEnvironment Organizer Flora Cardoni. “Now we can work together to lead the nation in being part of the solution.”