Community Engagement and Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Direct Air Quality Research at Industrial Sites Near Pittsburgh

A team of researchers is working to address air quality concerns in urban areas by engaging community stakeholders and conducting research to understand the potential health impacts of air pollution from industrial sites.

The Pittsburgh area is home to the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex and U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, two large industrial sites near Pittsburgh that have, among others, raised community concerns over potential health impacts related to associated air pollution. Attribution of health impacts is an ongoing challenge caused in part by limited air quality measurement networks and complex meteorological conditions.

The complex terrain surrounding these sites renders standard atmospheric modeling techniques (e.g., Gaussian plume models, standard-resolution mesoscale atmospheric models) uncertain. Standard quantification of exposure may not account for extreme concentrations of pollutants that can be found within valleys in stable atmospheric conditions. Further, these facilities are located in low-income areas, raising questions of equity and environmental justice in the assessment of economic benefit versus environmental harm.

Through this project, we are engaging a broad interdisciplinary team including community stakeholders to identify research needs and initiate research activities in response to these specific community air quality concerns.

Resulting Funding


Wei Peng

Wei Peng
Assistant Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Former Penn State researcher

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