AIR | Etna EcoDistrict

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AIR February 2019

ETNA ECODISTRICT Ecodistricts focus on both the hardware or physical systems of places, as well as the software of social and cultural resiliency. The Etna EcoDistrict, along with its Triboro Ecodistrict partners in Millvale and Sharpsburg, is focused on six key areas of planning and strategic action: water, mobility, air, energy, food, and equity.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: References to materials or processes developed by EcoDistricts®, and the Etna EcoDistrict are referred to as “EcoDistrict”, while the term ecodistrict without capitalization is used to refer to other districts, programs, and processes that are not the intellectual property of the EcoDistricts® organization.

Etna’s Air Vision

Etna is a healthy community with educated and empowered advocates that take a balanced approach to air quality.

4 | Etna EcoDistrict

ETNA’S AIR STORY The Pittsburgh area’s air quality has made great strides, but still has much work to do. While the air quality in the greater Pittsburgh area has improved significantly over the past 50 years, Pittsburgh still ranks as 8th most polluted city in the nation for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Etna cannot control regional point sources, but does have greater control over local point and mobile sources of pollution. The air quality in Etna is most significantly impacted by regional point sources, which is intensified by environmental conditions such as the wind direction and location along a river and in a valley. Local point sources and mobile sources have the greatest impact on the air quality in the immediate vicinity.

Air within buildings, like homes, can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air. Etna residents have direct control over the air quality within their homes. Indoor air can be impacted by the building envelope, resident behavior, consumer choices, and presence of hazardous legacy materials.

Air pollution can have serious health, environmental, and economic impacts.

Air pollution is the 10th leading risk factor for death in the U.S. Air pollution also has significant economic and environmental impacts.

Etna Borough has taken significant actions related to improving air quality.

Air quality monitoring, community leadership meetings, and tree plantings all contribute to improving air quality in Etna.

Etna residents and Air Quality Champions are planning for the future. July 2018 was “Air Quality Month” in Etna. Residents came together to discuss air quality as well as to develop Etna’s Air Quality Vision Statement.

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JULY 2018 WAS AIR QUALITY MONTH! The Etna EcoDistrict Education Series focused on a different Quality of Life Issue each month. 6 | Etna EcoDistrict

Etna Air Quality Education 40 Attendees July 16, 2018 The Etna EcoDistrict Education Series was an opportunity for attendees to develop a shared understanding of “air”, share information about the Borough’s air quality improvement initiatives, and allow residents to provide their own thoughts and opinions regarding air quality. The Education Session covered a variety of topics including: •

How has air quality in Etna and the greater region changed over time?

How does Etna’s air quality compare to other cities?

What are the health, economic, and environmental impacts of poor air quality?

What are regional point sources, local point sources, and mobile sources of outdoor air pollution?

What are indoor sources of air pollution?

How can Etna residents improve our region’s air quality?

Air quality places in Etna, including places where we enjoy good air quality and places where we do not.

Etna’s air quality improvement initiatives, including the exciting projects underway in Etna and the Triboro Ecodistrict.

At the beginning of the session, attendees shared their “Etna Air Quality Stories”, and several individuals shared their stories with the greater group. Many stories described former sources of pollution in Etna, such as from the old mills. Others shared current sources of bad smells and pollution from recreational fires. Following the presentation, attendees wrote their ideas for Etna’s air quality future on comment cards and provided feedback on statements that are most important to them.

Photos by evolveEA & Robert Tuñón AIR | 7

Etna Air Quality Champions 17 Attendees July 25, 2018 Following the Education Session, a group of 17 individuals who are particularly passionate about air quality attended the Champions Meeting to have a more in-depth conversation about Etna and the region’s air quality today, and to craft a vision for Etna’s air quality future. The Champions Meeting consisted of an in-depth discussion about the following topics:

Following the meeting two attendees (Jessica Jankowski and Valerie Beichner) volunteered to craft Etna’s Air Quality Vision Statement, informed by the conversation, and present it at the next Education Series meeting. The Champions crafted the vision statement thoughtfully and intentionally. “Healthy” refers to minimizing the health impacts of poor air quality.

The content covered during the Education Session.

“Educated and empowered advocates” is used because Etna residents want to have the knowledge and resources needed to actively participate in and drive change.

The Air Quality Stories, Air Quality Vision Statements, and general comments from the Education Session attendees regarding Etna’s air quality future.

“Balanced approach” is used because Etna wants to work with businesses and industry to make better air quality choices for themselves and for their community.

Following this discussion, the Air Quality Champions broke up into groups of two to discuss what Etna’s Air Quality Vision Statement should be. Through the discussion a few themes emerged, including: •

Education, awareness, and advocacy.

Taking individual and collective action.

Improving quality of life by reducing the impacts of air pollution.

Collaborating with neighboring communities on regional initiatives.

The vision statement they developed is written below.

AIR QUALITY VISION STATEMENT Etna is a healthy community with educated and empowered advocates that take a balanced approach to air quality.

Photos by evolveEA & Robert Tuñón 8 | Etna EcoDistrict

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The ecodistrict process is intended to empower and activate residents by providing them with the information and tools necessary to envision Etna’s future and then to achieve it. For this process to be successful, evolveEA, ECO, Etna Borough, and residents must listen to one another and work together to have open and honest conversations and share knowledge and resources. An essential part of this process is 10 | Etna EcoDistrict

asking for and integrating community thoughts and expertise into the process. The adjacent page shows the results of the Etna Air Quality Value Statement exercise that informed the Air Quality Champions’ conversations, and will ultimately inform the EcoDistrict Protocol Roadmap. Key themes from the community meeting feedback were quantified and will be revisited during Roadmap development.

It is important to me that... 83 responses

I experience clean outdoor air when walking around Etna and my children have clean air to breathe when playing outside.

19 I learn best practices to improve the air quality within my home.

14 The view across the River and to Downtown Pittsburgh from Etna is clear and free from smog and haze.

13 I understand the Greater Pittsburgh Region’s air quality issues and advocate for improvement.

12 Etna limits pollution-heavy activities within the community (vehicles, combustion, etc.).

12 Etna contains the greatest number of trees per square foot compared to communities in the greater area.

9 The air quality within my home is significantly better than the air quality outdoors.

3 Etna contains the cleanest outdoor air compared to communities in the greater area.

1 There is somewhere I can go in Etna (indoors or outdoors) where I can breathe air that is cleaner and healthier than the outdoor air and the air in my home.

0 Photos by evolveEA & Robert Tuñón AIR | 11

Percentile Ranking for Particulate Matter

Percentile rank for average annual particle pollution out of 315 urban areas using U.S. EPA data from 2014 to 2016

ETNA’S AIR QUALITY CONTEXT Air quality is not just an Etna problem, but a regional problem. 12 | Etna EcoDistrict

Pittsburgh has been named...

1st Most livable city

2nd Most walkable city


The region’s air quality is better than it used to be. Pittsburgh used to be known as “the Smokey City” for a reason. In the days when the region’s economy depended on steel mills, the color of the sky was an indicator of how much money was being made. Smog, chronic illness, and soot-covered surfaces were unavoidable and became a part of the urban identity. Many Pittsburghers will tell you that the region has cleaned up its act since that time.

Most affordable place to live

While this is true, the region still ranks as the 8th most polluted city in the nation.

Pittsburgh: ‘It’s better than you thought’

The impacts of this pollution are felt regionally, including within Etna. Of all the top ten lists Pittsburgh has made in the past few years, this is not one to be proud of. Awareness of the region’s air quality problem is difficult for many to grasp because air pollution is largely an invisible problem that we don’t think about on a daily basis. Unlike a major storm event that brings catastrophic flooding, air pollution is most harmful with long-term exposure and is not easily defined by a single event.

The Atlantic, 2014

As well as...

32 Most polluted city for ground-level ozone

8th Most polluted city for PM2.5

Luckily, studies have shown that there are dramatic reductions in health risk when people are removed from heavy pollution zones. By working together, Etna and other communities in the region can help improve air quality, promote health, and protect the environment.

Source: The Breathe Project, Clean Air Task Force (2017), American Lung Association, Brauer (2016), Etna Borough, The Economist, 2014; American Lung Association “State of the Air Report”, 2018; Smart Growth America, 2014; US News, 2016; Money, 2015 AIR | 13

Etna contains several places where residents can enjoy clean air, separated from pollution sources. Clean air is essential to human life and as humans, we seek places that immerse us in nature. Providing 14 | Etna EcoDistrict

places where people can escape pollution sources and re-connect with nature can support our mental and physical health. These places also help grow an appreciation for the trees and vegetation that provide us with clean air and contribute to the creation of beautiful places in Etna.

There are several places in Etna that are adjacent to pollution sources. Etna’s location near highways, major roads, and railroad tracks, as well as its geographic location in a river valley, all contribute to conditions that likely

worsen air quality. While we cannot fully escape these conditions, it emphasizes the need to provide places in Etna that are separated from pollution sources and can act as a temporary escape.

Photos by Robert Tuñón AIR | 15







Large-scale Pollution Emitters with Predominant Wind Direction and Intensity Allegheny County Title V Operating Permits


Title V Permits not yet issued by ACHD Allegheny County Synthetic Minor Operating Permits Wind Direction (thickness and opacity of the arrows indicates wind intensity)

SOURCES OF OUTDOOR AIR POLLUTION Outdoor air pollution is a challenge that the region must overcome together. 16 | Etna EcoDistrict

The National Ambient Air Quality Criteria Pollutants are six pollutants identified by the U.S. EPA for their widespread nature and ability to cause harm. National air quality standards have been established for these criteria pollutants that define allowable concentrations of these substances in the outdoor air. Allegheny County is currently failing to meet these standards for PM2.5, ground-level ozone, and sulfur dioxide. This is of particular concern because PM2.5 and ground-level ozone are the most widespread and harmful of the criteria pollutants.

Regional point sources of air pollution contribute to Etna’s air quality, but unfortunately Etna does not have much control over them. Regional point sources include industrial processes (such as chemical plants, steel mills, and oil refineries), large-scale fuel combustion (such as coal fired power plants), and any other large-scale pollution source located in the greater region. While Etna lacks jurisdiction to limit pollution from these sources, there are organizations that track these sources and advocate for compliance with federal air pollution emission standards.

National Ambient Air Quality Criteria Pollutants PM

Particulate Matter (PM2.5 * and PM10)


Ground-level Ozone*


Carbon Monoxide

SO2 Sulfur Dioxide* NOX Nitrogen Oxides Pb


* Indicates Allegheny County non-compliance

Regional point sources of air pollution may be located miles away, however, studies have shown that air pollutants can travel long distances. One study published in 2015 found that air pollution emitted in southwestern Pennsylvania travels hundreds of miles and can impact air quality as far as Ohio, Maryland, and Washington D.C.. Environmental conditions can influence the distance that air pollution travels. The predominant wind direction, rivers, and valleys can transport air pollutants. Other environmental conditions, such as location in a floodplain or presence of trees and vegetation can also impact air quality.

Source: GASP Air Permits Clearinghouse, EPA, Fabisiak, The Breathe Project, CATF 2015 Allegheny County Emissions from NEI 2011 v.2 PM2.5, PennEnvironment AIR | 17

Local Point Sources of Pollution Zones Likely zone of point sources The quantity of pollution produced by local point sources in Etna cannot be determined at this time. However, zones where local point sources are likely to exist can be determined as they usually overlay commercial and industrial zones. While this zone has been identified on the map, Etna does not seek to eliminate these businesses and activities from Etna, but to support them.

Etna residents have more control over local point sources and mobile sources of pollution. Local point sources of pollution include small-scale fuel combustion 18 | Etna EcoDistrict

(such as trash and wood burning), commercial facilities (such as dry cleaners, gas stations, autobodys, and paint shops), and any other pollution source located in or directly adjacent to Etna. Some of the local point sources are known and we can map them (such as restaurants,

laundromats, autobodys, and smallscale industrial). There are other sources of pollution we know are occurring but cannot map (such as fire pits, burning trash, gas and charcoal grills, pizza ovens, etc.). While we acknowledge that these are sources of pollution, we do not know to what extent they contribute to pollution in Etna and we do not seek to eliminate these businesses and activities from Etna. Instead, we must all work together to find solutions that help Etna businesses and residents thrive, while reducing their pollution impact. Mobile sources of pollution also have an impact on Etna’s air quality. Mobile sources include off-road sources (such as construction equipment, lawn and garden equipment, trains, and boats) and vehicles (such as cars, trucks, buses, trains, and boats). Etna contains several local roads and two major highways, which means that pollution from vehicles is likely significant. While it is known that off-road sources of pollution exist in Etna, similar to certain local point sources of pollution, these activities are difficult to map. It is impossible to know what percent each of these sources contributes to Etna’s air quality, specifically; however, it is estimated that regional industrial point sources contribute



Manufacturing, electricity generation, landfills


Transportation Cars, trucks, buses, construction, mobile sources

Mobile Sources of Pollution

up to 58% of Etna’s air pollution, mobile sources contribute 22% and residential emissions contribute 22%. Local point sources (such as burning trash) have a large impact on the air quality in the immediate vicinity, but do not contribute greatly to the overall air quality in Etna. This does not mean that local point sources do not have an impact and should not be targeted for improvement.



Wood burning, home emissions

? 2%


Sources: Etna Borough, Allegheny County, PASDA, PAAC, PennEnvironment, The Breathe Project, CATF 2015 Allegheny County Emissions from NEI 2011 v.2 PM2.5 AIR | 19

Consumer Choices

Resident Behavior

Building Envelope



of houses in Etna were built before 1950

of Etna buildings are in the floodplain




NOX Nitrogen Oxides




PM Particulate Matter




Building Legacy




CO Carbon Monoxide



SOURCES OF INDOOR AIR POLLUTION Air within homes and buildings can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air. 20 | Etna EcoDistrict

Etna residents have the most control over air pollution within their own homes. People spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, however, the air quality within homes and other buildings is often times more seriously polluted than outdoor air. There is no indoor equivalent for the six outdoor air criteria pollutants, however, the EPA has identified several air pollutants that are of particular concern for indoor air quality. These air pollutants can be introduced indoors through a variety of sources, including indoor combustion (such as gas stoves and fireplaces), materials and furnishings (such as insulation, carpeting, upholstery, etc.), and cleaning, maintenance, and personal care products. Cracks and gaps in the walls and floor, water leaks, and poor ventilation can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Etna residents can control these indoor sources of pollution through decisions about their homes’ building envelopes, behaviors, consumer choices, and building legacy materials. Due to the age of homes in Etna, as well as proximity to the floodplain, Etna residents are more likely to have building envelope and moisture issues, which lead to radon and mold problems. Resident behavior, such as cooking or use of fireplaces without ventilation, can lead to increased levels of carbon monoxide

Major Indoor Air Pollutants Building Envelope R MOLD

Radon Mold

Resident Behavior CO Carbon Monoxide NOX Nitrogen Oxides PM Particulate Matter Consumer Choices CH2O





Volatile Organic Compounds

Building Legacy ASB


Pb Lead

and nitrogen oxides in the home. Consumer choices regarding pest control, building materials, paints, and more can lead to increased levels of formaldehyde and pesticides in the home. Lastly, building legacy issues, such as asbestos and lead, must be abated during renovation projects.

Source: EPA AIR | 21

POTENTIAL HEALTH IMPACTS Death rate due to heart disease (per 100,000 people – not attributable to air quality only)


(per 100,000 people - not attributable to air quality only)

Allegheny County Allegheny County

City of Pittsburgh City of Pittsburgh

181 HEALTH IMPACTS195 181 195 POTENTIAL Death rate due to heart disease

(per 100,000 people – not attributable to air quality only)


Etna Etna

336 336 Source: SWPA Profile, ACHD 2012

(per 100,000 people - not attributable to air quality only)

Allegheny County

City of Pittsburgh

Allegheny County City of Pittsburgh POTENTIAL HEALTH IMPACTS 52.7 61.6 181 Death rate due to heart disease 195

Etna Etna

104.6 336

(per 100,000 people – not attributable to air quality only)


Source: SWPA Profile, ACHD 2012

Allegheny County

City of Pittsburgh


23% 181

19% 195

26.6% 336

Allegheny County

City of Pittsburgh


Source: SWPA Profile, ACHD 2012

IMPACTS OF POOR AIR QUALITY Poor air quality can have health, environmental, and economic impacts. 22 | Etna EcoDistrict

Air pollution is the 10th leading risk factor for death in the U.S. Unlike behavioral risks like smoking (ranked 2nd) and drug and alcohol abuse (ranked 7th), air pollution is a more abstract problem, where it is more difficult to find a clear solution. This is of particular concern for residents of the greater Pittsburgh region, where the County currently fails to meet federal standards for two of the most concerning air pollutants - PM2.5 and ground-level ozone. These pollutants have been linked to a number of negative health effects, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, respiratory disease, asthma, and negative reproductive and developmental outcomes. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and air pollution has been shown to aggravate cardiovascular conditions. Recent studies show that even shortterm exposure to elevated levels of pollutants can trigger heart attacks and ischemic stroke. In 2013, the World Health Organization added air pollution to its list of carcinogens, meaning that under certain conditions the air we breathe becomes a risk factor for cancer. Radon, high levels of which are prevalent in southwestern PA, is the second leading cause of lung cancer next to smoking. Importantly, lung cancer leads all forms in cancer deaths and is the cancer most associated with air pollution. PM2.5 and ground-level ozone have been shown to inhibit lung function. This can be especially hazardous for people who suffer from asthma and COPD.

Pre-term births, miscarriages, and lowbirth weight in babies have all been linked to air pollution. Toxic metals like chromium, found in the emissions of some industrial plants, have been shown to negatively affect lung development in babies and contribute to the risk of asthma. Recent studies have shown links between bad ambient air quality and autism spectrum disorder and mental illness. Otherwise healthy residents subjected to ambient air pollution may suffer from mild symptoms on a day to day basis, like watery eyes or wheezing, and never realize the potential connection to air quality. For sensitive populations (such as children, elders, and those with existing health conditions), high levels of pollutants can have not only significant longterm health consequences, but acute effects as well. There is reason to be optimistic though. While studies have shown acute health risks of air pollution, they have also shown dramatic reductions in health risk when people are removed from heavy pollution zones or the pollution is removed from them (such as traffic being re-routed or local point sources being eliminated).

Air pollution can also have economic and environmental impacts. The health effects of air pollution can lead to increased health costs, work absenteeism, decreased worker productivity, decreased industry and tourism, and other related economic impacts. Air pollution also affects the environment by contributing to acid rain, eutrophication, smog, crop and tree damage, and climate change.

Source: Institute foe Health Metrics and Evaluation, Brauer (2016), EPA, SWPA Profiles, ACHD (2012), AIR | 23

ETNA’S AIR QUALITY INITIATIVES We are working to improve air quality in Etna and the region! 24 | Etna EcoDistrict

Village Green Air Quality Monitoring Station In collaboration with the Triboro Ecodistrict, Etna will be installing a Real-time, Affordable, MultiPollutant (RAMP) air quality monitor in the community. This monitor will measure five of the six criteria pollutants - carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ground-level ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This monitor will be active around the clock so that Etna can analyze how local air quality changes over the course of a day, week, and seasonally, and will allow Etna to compare local air quality to Millvale, Sharpsburg, and the greater region. Understanding these patterns will allow Etna to make data-driven decisions about how to reduce sources of pollution in Etna and how to better protect residents from existing sources.

Air Quality Leadership Meeting On June 27, 2018, community leaders and elected officials from Etna, Sharpsburg, and Millvale convened to discuss the region’s air quality. The discussion included how to best work together to create greater awareness around regional air quality issues in each community and how to best advise residents about methods

to reduce negative health impacts. University researchers were also in attendance, and community leaders shared with them their goals for their respective communities in regards to air quality over the upcoming years. Etna looks forward to continuing the collaboration with Sharpsburg, Millvale, and university researchers to advance community understanding of air quality sources, impacts, and strategies for improvement.

Etna Street Trees Etna participates in a Shade Tree Commission in collaboration with Sharpsburg and Blawnox in order to support existing efforts to beautify all three municipalities with trees. Trees provide significant environmental benefits as well, such as providing comfort and energy savings through shade and wind break, aiding in the prevention of erosion, flash flooding, and air, noise, and visual pollution, and they reduce stormwater runoff. Etna has also planted 21 redbud trees as part of the new streetscape projects along Butler Street (with 9 more to come in 2019) and was recently awarded a $50,000 grant to plant more trees in the Borough. Trees improve air quality by absorbing air pollutants and filtering particulates out of the air, as well as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, their impact is limited. Trees are no substitution for reducing sources of air pollution.

Source: BBC, Etna Borough; Photos by Robert Tuñón & Mayor Mathew Rudzki (Sharpsburg) AIR | 25

HOW YOU CAN HELP! Here are five things you can do tomorrow... 26 | Etna EcoDistrict

1. Take the bus, bike, or walk to work one day every week.

Reduce your pollution contribution by getting out of your car and moving via alternative transportation.

2. Replace your HVAC filter. The filter for your home heating, air conditioning, and/or ventilation system is supposed to be changed every three months. Choose a filter with a high MERV rating. The higher the number, the better the filter!

3. Purchase healthy alternatives for pesticides and fertilizers.

Making smart and healthy consumer choices will improve indoor air quality.

4. Purchase a radon testing kit and carbon monoxide detector for your home. Basements, first floors, and belowgrade spaces should be checked for radon. One carbon monoxide detector should be place on every floor of your home.

5. If you or a loved one is a smoker, quit it!

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, and lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancerrelated deaths. Second-hand smoke contributes to poor air quality as well!

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ETNA ECODISTRICT Cover Photo: Vegetated hillside of Sharps Hill from First Congregational Church Cemetery. Photo by Robert Tuñón. Funding provided by Henry L. Hillman Foundation. The Etna EcoDistrict is supported by powered by


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