Clearing The Air 4.0

Executive Summary

November 2023


Read the full report here: Clearing The Air 4.0 report

Pittsburgh Works Together issued the first Clearing the Air report, version 1.0, using EPA data and research by others to dispel the myth that the air in the Pittsburgh region is among the worst in the country. That initial report found that our air is fairly typical of that found in big-city regions around the country; better than some, worse than others. 

This report, Clearing the Air 4.0, uses 2022 EPA data to continue our monitoring of the region’s air quality, which continues to improve year after year. 

And if you still think that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have bad air, you better stay away from Seattle, Austin, and San Diego, because theirs is worse (See page 18). Other findings in this report include: 

  • The region’s average level of microscopic soot (PM2.5) continues to decline. The PM2.5 level at the Liberty air monitor, which is used to measure Allegheny County’s compliance with the Clean Air Act, has met EPA standards for years, declined 7% in 2022 compared to 2021, and has dropped 23.2% over the past decade. 
  • Allegheny County has been in compliance with all EPA standards for two consecutive years for the first time ever. 
  • The Pittsburgh region is one of the cleanest major metro areas for ozone, which can cause lung irritation and aggravate asthma. The region has less ozone than 74% of the 50 largest metropolitan regions in the country. 
  • The American Lung Association continues to mislead the public on the region’s air quality, relying on limited data and making up its own criteria for its annual assessment. For instance, the Lung Association has continued to grade the 12-county Pittsburgh region as “F” for peak PM2.5 levels even though it has met EPA standards since 2018. And data in the Lung Association’s own report shows that many of the counties in the region are among the cleanest in the entire country for that pollutant. 

This is not to say we should be content. There is still further work that can be done to improve air quality in the region. And there may be communities where the air quality tends to be worse than the region’s typical conditions. But we need to act based on facts, not fear or feelings. Misunderstanding the nature of the region’s air quality can lead people to believe that they live in a uniquely bad community and are putting their health at risk unnecessarily. It can send an inaccurate message to people and companies considering living or investing in the region. And mischaracterizing the problem puts pressure on regulators and public officials to solve “problems” that some people imagine exist rather than those that actually do.


Read the full report here: Clearing The Air 4.0

Read Clearing the Air 3.0 here: Clearing The Air 3.0

Read Clearing the Air 2.0 here: Clearing The Air 2.0

Read Clearing The Air 1.0 here: Clearing The Air 1.0

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Jeff Nobers | Executive Director |
Ken Zapiniski | Director of Research and Public Policy |
General Inquires:

631 Iron City Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15205

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