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W O M E N S H E A LT H & T H E E N V I R O N M E N T

W o r k i n g To w a r d a H e a l t h y E n v i r o n m e n t

A Resource List for Western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh has a rich industrial and environmental histor y. Star ting in the 1800s, the region’s steel production and other industries played a critical role in propelling the U.S. industrial revolution forward. As a result, many areas were intensely polluted and Pittsburgh became known wor ld-wide for its dir ty environment.

The tension between environmental pollution and protection are etched t h r o u g h o u t P i t t s b u r g h ’s h i s t o r y. A s e a r l y a s t h e 1 8 9 0 s , w o m e n c o n cer ned about public health began to organize against smoke pollu- tion. Ear ly on, Pittsburgh was compelled to regulate its own air before being mandated to do so by the federal gover nment. In recent year s, Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania have taken leader ship roles in confronting the har mful health effects that have resulted from environ- mental contaminants. Pittsburgh is now a leader in green buildings, green chemistr y and a commitment to preser ving our natural spaces as essential for the region’s future and economic development. There are many local organizations wor king to advance Pittsburgh’s greening and to provide resources and ser vices for individuals and institutions to protect the environment and human health.

This fact sheet is par t of the Women’s Health and the Environment toolkit. Go to

www.womenshealthandenvi- to lear n about how our health and the environment are connected and about ways to protect our families and communities.

This fact sheet provides infor mation, resources and oppor tunities for you to get involved in making Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas healthier places to live.

Two Major Issues Affecting Pennsylvanians’ Health:

Mercury and Air Quality

Mercur y

Mercur y is widely under stood to affect brain development, especially in the ver y young . Coal-fired power plants are responsible for approximately 80 percent of the mercur y released in Pennsylvania. The state ranks third in the nation for emitting the most mercur y from power plants. 1

The good news: In 2007 the Pennsylvania Depar tment of Environmental Protection announced a new r ule that will achieve 90 percent cuts in mercur y pollution from coal-fired p owe r p l a n t s by 2 0 1 5 . T h i s i s a s i g n ifi c a n t v i c t o r y f o r Pennsylvanians.

For more information about mercur y in Pennsylvania, visit:

PennFuture’s Special Campaign to Protect Babies from Toxic Mercur y Pollution: This project provides resources to empower citizens to reduce toxic mercur y emissions from Pennsylvania's coal-fired power plants. www.protectba- The Lear ning Disabilities Association of America’s Healthy Children Project (based in Pittsburgh) provides infor mation about the health impacts of environmental contaminants on children. The Pennsylvania Depar tment of Environmental Protection is the state agency largely responsible for administering Pennsylvania's environmental laws and regulations. y

The Pennsylvania Depar tment of Health provides infor ma- tion regarding many health topics, including impacts from mercur y.

Two Major Issues Affecting Pennsylvanians’ Health: Mercury and Air Quality Mercur y Mercur y is widely

Take the Rachel Car son Legacy Challenge

The Rachel Car son Homestead challenges people to commit- ment to ever yday actions that protect the environment and o u r h e a lt h . E f fo r t s a r e i n h o n o r o f R a c h e l C a r s o n , a n e x t r a o r d i n a r y l e a d e r i n t h e m ov e m e n t fo r a h e a l t hy e nv ir o n m e n t , wh o wa s b o r n near Pittsburgh 100 years ago.

To learn more go to

Air Quality

Despite the progress with coal-fired power plant emissions, Pennsylvania still has problems with air quality. In fact, eight out of 10 Pennsylvania residents live in areas that have failed air quality standards since 2001. 2 Poor air q u a l it y i s a s s o c i a t e d wit h m a ny d i s e a s e s , i n c l u d i n g a s t h m a , h e a r t d i s e a s e a n d l u n g d i s e a s e . Air p o l l u ti o n comes from many sources, including car s, freight tr ucks, p owe r p l a n t s a n d f a c t o ri e s . Di e s e l e m i s s i o n s a r e a s i g n if icant source of this pollution and area groups have for med a county-wide par tner ship to reduce diesel emis- sions. The par tner ship is targeting school buses fir st, because children are vulnerable and emissions concen- trate inside the buses. But waste hauler s, constr uction e q u i p m e n t a n d b o a t s a r e s i g n i fi c a n t s o u r c e s o f o u r l o c a l problem.

T h e g o o d n ews : Yo u c a n h e l p i m p r ov e a ir q u a l it y a n d r e duce diesel emissions. To lear n more about what you can do, check out these organizations:

Clean Water Action is one of the collaborator s in the Allegheny County Par tner ship to Reduce Diesel Pollu- tion.

Group Against Smog and Pollution is also a collaborator i n Al l e g h e ny Co u n t y Pa r t n e r s h i p t o Re d u c e Di e s e l Po l l u tion.

• The Pennsylvania Depar tment of Environmental

Protection, Bureau of Air Quality provides a wealth of statewide information and resources regarding air quality.

The Allegheny County Health Depar tment, Air Quality offers countywide air quality data and links to resources. star t.html

RiverQuest is a science and environmental educational organization offering river-based educational programs for students, teacher s and the community.

He a lt hy Ho me Re s o u r c e s wo r k s wit h p a r e n t s o f a s t h m a ti c c h i l d r e n t o r e d u c e i n - h o m e e x p o s u r e s t o c o n t a m inants.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Allerg y, Immunolog y and Infectious Diseases Depar tment has a wor ld-class team of asthma researcher s and community programs. y/asthhub.php

Univer sity of Pittsburgh Medical Center provides infor mation and resources on asthma.

Other Community Efforts to Protect Pennsylvanians’ Health

There are many organizations in Pittsburgh working to protect people’s health. To get involved in making changes in your community, contact any of the following organizations:

PennFuture and Pennsylvania Conser vation Voter s Education League wor k to strengthen policy related to health and the environment. and

Women’s Health and Environmental Networ k champions the health of women and their families by reducing envi- ronmental exposures through education, research and direct action.

Sustainable Pittsburgh focuses on integrating economic prosperity, social equity and environmental quality to bring sustainable solutions to communities and busi- nesses.

Clean Water Action leads the PA Campaign for Clean Water, a coalition fighting to protect our state's streams, stop destr uction of our wetlands and improve manage- ment of stor mwater r unoff.

The 3 River s Wet Weather Demonstration Program wor ks with 83 communities to address the issue of untreated sewage and stor mwater overflowing into our region's waterways. www.3river

The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at the Univer sity of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health offer s access to local environmental health data, oppor tunities for collaboration and outreach that helps people improve their lives and neighbor- hoods.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Pittsburgh Affiliate aims to end breast cancer by empowering individuals, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cause and cure to this disease. www.pittsburghracefor

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment in Pennsylvania is a networ k of individuals and organiza- tions addressing the growing concer ns about the links between human health and environmental factor s through science dissemination, collaboration and education.

Pittsburgh is a leader in the green and healthy building movement: the city has the second highest number of Leader ship in Energ y and Environmental Design (LEED) cer tified commercial buildings in the countr y. 3

Other Community Efforts to Protect Pennsylvanians’ Health There are many organizations in Pittsburgh working to protect
Other Community Efforts to Protect Pennsylvanians’ Health There are many organizations in Pittsburgh working to protect

Local Resources to Make Your Home Healthier

There are many simple actions that we can take right now to help protect our health and our family’s health. For example, eliminating environmental contaminants in our homes is an impor tant step toward preventing har m. Some local organiza- tions that can help you make these changes include:

The Eat Well Guide and Local Har vest are great websites t h a t h e l p y o u f i n d l o c a l o r g a n i c a n d s u s t a i n a b l e f a r m s , grocer y stores and restaurants. and www.localhar

Farmer s’ Mar ket Alliance provides infor mation on far mer s’ mar kets in Wester n Pennsylvania. www.far mer smar

The Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture helps connect consumer s with far mer s and provides infor- mation on sustainable agriculture. www.pasafar ming .org

The Center for Environmental Oncolog y at the Univer sity of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has great resources to help you make simple changes at home, including making your own household cleaner s and pesticides. www.environmentaloncolog

Healthy Home Resources equips individuals and fami- lies with the knowledge, suppor t and tools needed to reduce exposure to indoor environmental hazards. They are available to answer questions from the public.

Green Building Alliance provides wor kshops on healthy building design and gives tour s of environ- mentally designed buildings in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

T h e Pe n n s y l v a n i a Re s o u r c e s Co u n c i l p r ov i d e s r e s o u r c e s t o d e a l wit h h a z a r d o u s wa s t e s i n t h e home, composting and other statewide environmental issues.

Constr uction Junction is a non-profit venture that offer s reusable building materials at low cost to the community. www.constr

Conser vation Consultants Inc. is a non-profit organiza- tion offering a range of consulting ser vices to improve energ y efficiency and comfor t in new and existing buildings, including business, schools, homes and places of wor ship.

What You Can Do at Work

Reducing Workplace Hazards and Exposures

Adults often spend more time at wor k than anywhere else. Those who wor k in industrial settings are exposed to toxic materials more than the general public and often bring these contaminants home. Wor kplace safety and health are at the center of the str uggle to prevent and reduce wor ker s’ exposures to environmental contaminants. Some resources on wor kplace exposures and health protections include:

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America provides infor mation to stewards, officer s and wor ker s on wor kplace health and safety issues, wor ker rights and more.

The Wor ker Health Protection Program has useful fact sheets and wor ker health links that are helpful to all who wor k with hazardous materials. www.pace-wor

Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health is made up of unions, health and legal professionals wor king for a safe and protected wor kplace and the rights of injured wor ker s.

Health, Safety and Environment Depar tment of the United Steelwor ker s assists local unions’ health, safety and environment effor ts through education and trainings and by strengthening regulations and standards.

What You Can Do at Work Reducing Workplace Hazards and Exposures Adults often spend more time
What You Can Do at Work Reducing Workplace Hazards and Exposures Adults often spend more time
To learn how our health and the environment are connected and about ways to protect our

To learn how our health and the environment are connected and about ways to protect our families and communities, visit our website at


  • 1. National Wildlife Federation: yinPennsylvania.pdf.

  • 2. Pennsylvania Conser vation Voter Education League: