More than 50 ‘unhealthy air days’ wafted through the Lehigh Valley last year. Report says diesel and gas fumes are contributors

Written by on October 11, 2021

More than 50 ‘unhealthy air days’ wafted through the Lehigh Valley last year. Report says diesel and gas fumes are contributors

By Megan Frank

October 11, 2021

U.S. Steel’s Clairton Plant, the largest coke works in North America, in Clairton, Pa. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

A new report says Lehigh Valley residents breathed in heavily polluted air for more than 50 days last year. 

Listen to the story.

Flora Cardoni is a field director with PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center. She says the region consistently has issues with air quality each year due to ozone pollution and fine particulate matter in the air.

Contributing factors, Cardoni said, are population growth as well as gas and diesel fueled cars.

“In the Lehigh Valley, we know both with our growing population, there’s just more people, more cars on the roads, and then the warehouses mean there’s an increase of diesel truck traffic driving through the Lehigh Valley as well,” Cardoni said. 

More than 850,000 people live in the Lehigh Valley, and the region is home to dozens of e-commerce warehouses and fulfillment centers.  

“In the Lehigh Valley and really across the state, one of the main sources of pollution is transportation,” Cardoni said.

Cardoni says air pollution contributes to asthma and other respiratory issues, and could be a lung irritant for people with long-term COVID-19.

Right now, Congress is considering infrastructure legislation that would jumpstart cleaner transportation projects and set aside $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations.

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