Monday, December 20, 2010

The Air Out There

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette just ran an eight-part series titled "Mapping Mortality" by staff writers David Templeton and Don Hopey (Mr. Hopey is a former resident of Mt. Lebanon).  In it, they addressed the higher-than-national-average mortality rates that prevail in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania believed to accrue from the incidence of air pollution linked to coal-fired power plants and other industrial companies labeled by the EPA as major sources of pollution.

While the news for southwestern Pennsylvania is not good, a silver lining may be that "several municipalities with mortality rates less than the national average suggest a smaller polution burden along with socioeconomic factors that reduce disease risk.  These include Mt. Lebanon with a rate 10 percent below the national rate and Upper St. Clair, whose mortality rates are 32 percent below national rates...South Fayette in western Allegheny County is 28 [percent] under the national average."  The flip side?  Close-by communities Bridgeville, Heidelberg and Carnegie have a combined mortality rate that is 36 percent above the national average and lung cancer rates in Heidelberg are an astonishing 140 percent higher than the national average.

A summary of this informative series can be found on the P-G's Staff Blogs.