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Pittsburgh has a long history with poor air quality. And for a long time, that bad air was easy to see. That smoke that you can see in the picture to the right was full of soot and coal dust that would settle on surfaces, stick to buildings, acidify streams, contaminate soils, and get in people's lungs.
Sometimes you can see a haze over Pittsburgh if you are up on top of a hill looking out, but it's nowhere near as smoky as it used to be. So that's good right?
Our air is better than it was, but it's still not good. in fact, the Pittsburgh region consistently has some of the worst air quality in the country.
The 2019 state of the air report by the American Lung Association showed that Pittsburgh's air was the 7th worst in the country
Take a moment to think about what you know about air pollution and Pittsburgh. What do you think causes our air to be polluted so consistently?
Before moving to the next section and exploring air quality in Pittsburgh and beyond, try to answer the following questions:
(1) What do you think are the biggest factors affecting air quality?
- Does the air quality change as you move away from the park?
- Zoom out from Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh region, country, world) Where is the air quality better/worse? What might be happening in the places with poor air quality? (Try using google maps satellite view to identify what's around)
- What is the air quality like around where you are?
- Do you notice any differences in air quality in and out of cities?
- Thinking broadly about life in the city, what are some benefits and drawbacks that people might consider when deciding where to live? (social benefits, health impacts, ecological benefits, etc)
- What can you see on the map?
- Are you able to find where you live?
- Where is your school?
What features can you see on the map?
- Do you see any patterns?
- Based on this map and what you know about black carbon, what are the major contributors to air pollution in the region?
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