The I See Smoke App is here! Report smoke pollution with this easy tool

October 29th, 2014
By: Mollie Simon

For those affected by wood smoke pollution, the Clean Air Council’s I See Smoke program has rolled out a new tool that makes reporting violations and taking action easy. The new I See Smoke map allows users to find their location and share information and photos of the smoke pollution in their neighborhood.

iseesmoke base map

Full instructions on how to use the map can be found here

By using the app, community members fill out information about the pollution they see. That information then gets passed on to the Clean Air Council, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, and all appropriate county health agencies. This streamlines the reporting process and makes sure that all violations are being reported to the agencies that oversee air quality enforcement.

“As someone who has managed asthma since childhood, I am often afflicted by smoke pollution from open burning in Allegheny County,” said Don Van Kirk of Franklin Park. “It burns your eyes, stings your lungs and is more than just a nuisance, it is debilitating. This is a great tool to report violations”

Wood smoke pollution can be extremely harmful for those who live nearby. The burning of biomass, such as wood, results in high levels of soot, particulate matter, and carcinogenic material being released with comparatively little energy produced.  Everyone’s health can be impacted but especially children with their developing lungs and the elderly.

Check out this easy to use and innovative tool and report wood smoke pollution in your neighborhood. Speaking up for clean air will help to protect your health and the health of your community.

New Report Shows Most Polluting Biomass Facilities in Pennsylvania

October 24th, 2014
By: Mollie Simon

How close to do you live to a dangerous biomass facility? A new report and database released by the Partnership for Public Integrity this week shows the 100 most polluting biomass facilities in Pennsylvania.

mary map

Do you live near a polluting biomass facility?

This database is an excellent resource and gives a strong picture of the biomass industry in Pennsylvania. By making information available to the public, it allows affected community members to get involved with air quality issues that impact their neighborhood.

Biomass is commonly misunderstood as a clean fuel source.

“Biomass is unique because it has been subsidized and promoted so heavily in Pennsylvania as clean renewable energy, while the reality is that biomass burners emit tens of tons of soot and other pollutants into local communities,” said Mary Booth, director of PFPI and the author of the report.

Burning wood and other biomass emits high amounts of pollutants such as particulate matter and soot which worsens air quality and can exasperate respiratory illness.


Photo by Flickr user Neil Turner

One of the most striking facts from the report is the drastic increases in asthma in school children across the state from 2008 to 2012. Pennsylvania has seen an overall 43% increase in asthma in schoolchildren, with some counties seeing increases as high as 256%. While there are many factors that can contribute to asthma, the ever degrading air quality in Pennsylvania certainly plays a role in these heightened rates. Our children are paying the price for our foolish environmental practices.

When it comes to protecting our air, Pennsylvania isn’t doing too well. Over a third of Pennsylvania counties (25 of the 67) failed to meet Environmental Protection Agency health standards for particulate matter, ozone or both. Particulate matter is one of the most dangerous pollutants released from biomass and wood burning operations. As we continue to irresponsibly burn wood, biomass, and fossil fuels, particulate matter and ozone endure in our communities.

Pennsylvania should be subsidizing and supporting true renewable energy like wind and solar power. Continuing to invest in polluting fuels like biomass will only lead to more pollution and more respiratory illness. You can read the full report on biomass facilities in Pennsylvania here.



Hearing on Open Burning Regulations for Allegheny County

Join the Campaign

Join Clean Air Council  at the upcoming Allegheny County Health Department public hearing on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at 10:00 AM,  to voice your support and present you comments on a No Burn Alternative in Allegheny County.  The hearing will be held in the First Floor Conference Room at Building #7 of the Clack Health Center, 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 for proposed amendments to Rules and Regulations on Open Burning.
Contact Thurman Brendlinger, or 215-567-4004, Ext. 104 if you plan on presenting comments or have questions about the issue.

Click on the image below to view or download the entire fact sheet.