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At GASP, we run a variety of programs in different subjects so that we can work with the community to clean our air. 

At GASP, we believe that knowledge is power so we put together this quick, plain-language guide to give a broad overview of what air pollution we grapple with locally and where they come from, how to report odor complaints and ways you can be an air quality changemaker in your community. The guide is also available in Spanish.

  • What types of air pollutants do we normally worry about?
    The Environmental Protection Agency sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for 6 criteria air pollutants. These pollutants were chosen because they are widespread, and pose significant harm to human health and the environment. The criteria pollutants are ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are another important group of pollutants. These are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects.
  • Where does air pollution come from?
    There are several sources of air pollution: Natural sources include volcanoes and wildfires. Mobile sources are related to traffic and include vehicle emissions, as well as emissions from air traffic, trains, construction equipment, and ships. Stationary sources include factories, power plants, and industrial sources. Major Sources are facilities that have the potential to emit pollutants in amounts equal to or greater than the corresponding major source threshold levels. These threshold levels vary by pollutant and/or source category. To find a map of nearby major sources and what pollutants they emit, check out our Air Permits Clearinghouse. A minor source is a facility that emits pollutants in amounts less than the corresponding major source thresholds.
  • How can I protect myself from air pollution?
    Pre-plan outdoor activities. Choosing the right time of day and location can minimize pollution exposure. Try to avoid areas with heavy traffic, especially during peak traffic times. Check the Air Quality Index. The AQI gives you a forecast of what the air quality will be like, and what the associated health effects are for the day. Sign up for Allegheny Alerts. Choose what types of alerts you are interested in and if you want them to call, text, or email you.
  • How can I speak up for clean air?
    It's important that regulators and administrators hear from the people, not just environmental groups. Making a complaint or filing a report is the first step if you suspect a violation, but there are many ways to make your voice heard. Writing letters to the editor, attending meetings, and writing to your representatives are all ways to show your commitment to cleaner, healthier air. If you want to get more involved, but aren’t sure where to start, consider becoming a member or contact us.
  • What are some free, online air quality tools I can use?
    Allegheny County Health Department Air Quality Program Smell Pgh App Breathe Project’s Breathe Cams & Breathe Meter AirNow PurpleAir FracTracker National Weather Service Air Quality Index World’s Air Pollution: Real-Time Air Quality Index

Clean Air FAQs

The clearinghouse is one of the easiest ways to see the major sources of air pollution in the area. Check out the map to see the major sources are near you.

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GASP published a twice-yearly newsletter that kept members in the know about all things air quality. In 2019, we retired the Hotline and moved to a more environmentally friendly weekly e-newsletter called the GASP Alert. You can still check out the Hotline archive here.

GASP Guides: Deep Dives into Important Topics

Relevant Partners and Resources

  • PA Department of Environmental Protection "The Environmental Regulatory Process in Pennsylvania," 2020


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