Air Pollution Puts 'Most Livable' City at Risk

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh may be one of America's most livable cities, but air pollution still makes the area a riskier place to live, according to a presentation scheduled Tuesday.

Allegheny General Hospital and the nonprofit Breathe Project will host researchers from Harvard, Johns Hopkins and several local institutions in the Marriott Pittsburgh City Center, Downtown, to talk about air pollution's impact on Western Pennsylvania. For the first time, a collective review of 42 years of air pollution statistics and trends in Pittsburgh will be presented by consultant and Johns Hopkins scientist Ron White.

The review will highlight points known by many area health care officials, but too often forgotten by the public:

- The city's air pollution has contributed to low birth weights and early deliveries.

- Pittsburgh is 17th in the nation for its number of neighborhoods with a high cancer risk.

- Air pollution in the area continues to exacerbate heart and lung disease, causing scores of premature deaths.

"We still have a problem with air pollution here," said Dr. Deborah Gentile, a pediatric asthma expert at Allegheny General Hospital who will give the first presentation, starting at 8 a.m. "We really need to work together as a community to try and solve it."

Pittsburgh has made dramatic improvements in air quality since earning the name of the "Smoky City," complete with pollution levels that killed people and turned daytime black. Average soot pollution has dropped by about a third at monitors around Allegheny County from 2000 to 2011, data show.

By next year, Allegheny County projects it will meet federal clean-air standards for the first time since their 1997 creation. …