Editor’s Note: The Allegheny County Health Department periodically updates its website to include documents related to air quality enforcement actions. As part of our watchdog work, GASP monitors this webpage, and reports on the air quality violations posted there.
The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) issued a civil penalty of $2,090 against an Elizabeth Township contractor for open burning violations.
According to ACHD’s March 1 enforcement order, the fine was levied against Jeff Sorick Heating & Cooling for violations at 8914 Roberts Hollow Road in Elizabeth on Aug. 4, 2020, Aug. 13, 2021, and Jan. 12, 2022.
ACHD sent inspectors to the property following citizen complaints and found that Jeff Sorick Heating & Cooling was in violation of the county’s open burning regulations because:
The company was burning something other than clean wood, propane or natural gas - namely cardboard and polystyrene foam
The burn pit exceeded size regulations
No employee was present as required while burning was taking place
The company has appealed the fine.
GASP continues to follow the issue, and applauds ACHD for taking action on citizen complaints regarding wood smoke and for holding polluters accountable through enforcement action and fines.
And considering spring has sprung and having a backyard fire might be on folks’ radar, we want to ask you, dear reader, to do your part, too: Don’t be a jag when it comes to wood burning.
It’s one thing if you live on a large piece of property in a rural part of the county and have a small fire to roast marshmallows with the kids. It’s another thing to live in a densely populated part of town and start a smoking, raging inferno in your small yard.
Because - truly - wood smoke is no joke: It contains very fine particles - ones tiny enough to reach deep into the lungs and cause myriad health ailments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fine particles can trigger heart attacks, stroke, irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure, especially in people who are already at risk for these conditions. Fine particles can also make asthma symptoms worse and trigger asthma attacks.
So before you embark on that backyard fire, please get your learn on - ACHD has the regs spelled out right here.