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Residents Speak in Favor of Strong Remedy for Polluting Coke Works

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Business owners, faith leaders, and residents on March 21 crammed into the Lincoln Barber Shop in Bellevue to outline their concerns over repeated, ongoing air pollution violations from the Shenango Coke Works on Neville Island, and to demand that the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) take strong action to remedy the problems. Judy McAuley, co-owner of the Happy Baby Company, spoke that morning and we’re happy to be able to share her comments here:

“My husband and I have been residents of either Bellevue or Avalon for the past 11 years. We are raising our two children here, and we are small business owners here. We started our cloth diaper service, Green Cheeks, three years ago, and just opened our natural parenting store, Happy Baby Company, on Lincoln Avenue this past fall.

While we love being a part of this community, we’re concerned about our health and the health of our children due to the ongoing air quality issues in the area from the coke works. This needs to be dealt with by regulators. Our store focuses on natural parenting. We sell eco-friendly toys and body products, cloth diapers, baby carriers and more. Everything we sell is chosen for its sustainability, for responsible manufacturing processes and because it is the healthier choice for babies and parents.

We worry about the chemicals that we are using on our babies’ skin, but there’s nothing we can do about the quality of the air that they are breathing unless the Health Department steps in and makes the Shenango Coke Works become compliant. Our customers worry about the products they are using on their babies–that’s one of the reasons that they shop with us. Yet we are asking them to come into this area to visit our store and expose themselves and their families to air that is being polluted by these violations at the coke works.

Studies show that there are serious implications for pregnant women, babies and children as they grow when they are exposed to poor air quality. Bad air quality is linked to poor birth outcomes such as low birth weight, premature birth and certain birth defects. It is also linked to higher incidences of asthma and allergies in children.

As parents we worry about the products we expose our babies to from the time they are in the womb. But while a pregnant mom living in Bellevue can choose not to paint her baby’s nursery to avoid the toxic fumes or to buy a natural mattress for her baby’s crib to avoid off gassing, she can’t do anything to avoid breathing the polluted air where she lives without some help from the Health Department.

As a community member, a small business owner, and most of all, a parent, I urge the Allegheny County Health Department to take action to rein in the violations by the Shenango Coke Works and to live up to their mission of making our area a safe and healthy place to live and breathe.”

To stay current on this air quality issue, please visit our Project Page, DTE Shenango Coke.

And if you’d like to join the Happy Baby Company to try to set a World Record for most babies being changed into cloth diapers at the same time (!), check out this event page.

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