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  • Writer's pictureValley Clean Air Now

Is our air and water in Clairton and Glassport clean? Benzene.

Second in a series of posts showing what I suggest people read that ask me this question. It will take a little time.

Environmental Integrity Project and Create Lab of Carnegie-Mellon University monitored the air in several locations throughout Clairton and Glassport beginning in December, 2021. This press release explains their results in monitoring for benzene over 12 months.

EIP Urges EPA to Limit Benzene Pollution from Western PA Steel Plants in Response to Community Monitoring Data Monitoring at Residential Properties Downwind from US Steel Plants Reveals Benzene Levels that Pose Health Risks.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 14, 2022 Media contacts: Ari Phillips, Environmental Integrity Project, (505) 629-6148 or Lisa Graves Marcucci, Environmental Integrity Project, (412) 897-0569 or Pittsburgh –

In a letter to EPA today, EIP urged EPA to order US Steel to monitor benzene concentrations at the perimeter of each of its three Monongahela Valley Plants, and to take corrective action whenever their fenceline benzene levels exceed certain thresholds already in place for refineries and some petrochemical plants. The groups found unhealthy levels of benzene, a hazardous air pollutant that can irritate the skin, eyes, and throat, and lead to additional health problems, at two homes near the plants. The letter also urges EPA to address unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and hydrogen sulfide in the same communities. PM2.5 exceeded federal air quality standards for six days in October and November, while hydrogen sulfide levels were above state air quality standards more than twenty days. Eight local groups and a number of community members signed onto the letter. In October, EIP found that two-week average concentrations of benzene at two residences near the US Steel Clairton and Irvin Works plants exceeded 10 and 16 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air). Given that benzene concentrations can vary widely over short periods of time, 24- hour concentrations may have exceeded 29 µg/m3 for at least one or two days during that twoweek period in these communities. The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates that exposure to benzene concentrations above 29 µg/m3 for as little as 24 hours can increase the risk of noncancerous health effects like a weakened immune system. “Benzene concentrations this high are just not acceptable,” said EIP Deputy Director Jen Duggan. “Local authorities have repeatedly failed to seriously address toxic pollution from the U.S. Steel plants, and we are asking EPA to step in and provide the necessary relief for these communities and workers at the plant.”

I'm providing the first several paragraphs of the press release. If you want to read more, send an email to

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