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Join GASP, Residents & Fellow Advocates to Speak Out on Mon Valley Stench; Demand Transparency on H2S Exceedance Problem

This week’s unseasonably warm temperatures have come with unreasonably putrid air quality conditions: Today is the fifth straight day that concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in the Mon Valley have exceeded Pennsylvania’s 24-hour average standard.

The total tally for 2024 now stands at 43. At this time last year, there were 39.

“It’s not just the number of exceedances that we have been experiencing that concern us,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “So do the spikes recorded at the Liberty monitor and the fact that this issue persists despite millions of dollars in assessed fines against U.S. Steel over the past few years for such exceedances - as well as mandates that the company craft an action plan to address them.”

What’s being done to address the issue? No clue.

That’s because despite the sometimes days-long episodes of stench, the Allegheny County Health Department - our local air quality regulator- has issued no public updates addressing the issue, what’s driving the alarmingly high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, and what’s being done to solve the problem.


What we do know is that enough is enough. Residents deserve answers. And we’re hoping you can join GASP, residents and fellow advocates at the upcoming Allegheny County Board of Health meeting to demand them.

We know that the time for transparency is now. Because hydrogen sulfide isn’t a new problem - the air pollutant with the distinctive rotten-egg odor is a longtime local nemesis. 

We know that for years, residents in the Mon Valley and beyond have been subject to H2S concentrations high enough to cause irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat and that have been linked to headaches, poor memory, tiredness, and balance problems according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Low concentrations of H2S may also cause difficulty in breathing for some asthmatics.

And we know who needs to be held to account: U.S. Steel. 

According to a 31-page study conducted by the Allegheny County Health Department, years’ worth of H2S exceedances in the Mon Valley “can be attributed entirely” to emissions from the company’s Clairton Coke Works facility. 

We implore folks whose health and quality of life has been impacted by these ongoing air quality violations to sign up to speak at the May 8 board of health meeting. Residents who sign up to speak get three minutes to address the board. The deadline to register is 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. The link to sign up is here.

Can’t make it but wanna give them a piece of your mind? We get it: Board of health meetings are held in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh - they aren’t the easiest gatherings to get to.

So if you still want to weigh in, we encourage you to submit written comments via ACHD’s contact form here. These comments go directly to board of health members and those received by 12:30 p.m. Tuesday will be summarized verbally at the meeting. 

“Let’s send a clear message to public health leaders that we are sick and tired of being in the dark on what they are doing to solve a years-long public health issue,” Campbell said.

Editor's Note: We have background info + talking points for those who would like to provide verbal or written comments.

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