Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) in December 2021 provided its yearly analysis and summary of air quality monitoring data, posting to its website the 2020 Annual Air Quality Report.
This report “reflects air quality as sampled and validated by ACHD through the 2020 calendar year.” The 44-page document, which was published without fanfare, can be read in its entirety here.
Reading about 2020 air quality in 2022 might seem dated or obsolete but this report is worth checking out.
Simply put, it is ACHD’s most comprehensive look at air quality data.
The report provides the previous year’s data and 20-year trends. For pollutant standards that require averages over consecutive years, multi-year averages are given. Exceedances are also given for the monitored pollutants.
(For those who may be unfamiliar: An exceedance is a concentration that goes above a standard but does not necessarily constitute a “violation” of a standard. For some standards, a violation is a collection of several exceedances over a multi-year period.)
Here is a summary of exceedances for federal standards provided in the report:
Although there are no federal standards for hydrogen sulfide, Pennsylvania standards for protection against odor nuisances are 0.1 ppm on a one-hour basis and 0.005 ppm on a 24-hour average basis.
The report indicates that in 2020, Pennsylvania’s 24-hour H2S average concentration was exceeded on 25 days at the Liberty monitor. There were two other such exceedances at the North Braddock monitor.
“While we noted that ACHD Director Dr. Bogan mentioned the availability of the report at the latest Board of Health meeting, its quiet release is another example of how department leadership fails to adequately prioritize communications with residents about air quality issues,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “Sharing this report with commentary would help residents better understand the data and its public health implications. We encourage ACHD to be a little louder with these sorts of informative materials in the future.”