We are all affected by poor air quality and it probably will not surprise you that the air quality in our area is not great.  As we recommit as a congregation to creating a green sanctuary for us at UUCNH here are some things you need to know about poor air quality.  And some suggestions on how to act when the air is really bad,

Know the truth about poor air quality

Truth: Since the Clean Air Act passed in 1970 it has saved $22 trillion and paid for itself 30 times over. It saved 13 million lost workdays in 2010 and is projected to prevent 220,000 premature deaths in 2020.

Myth: “Our air is good; it is so much better than when I grew up here years ago.” Everyone agrees it is better. But, our air remains a significant challenge. We are still 1 of 13 areas nationwide that don’t meet Clean Air Act standards. The Pittsburgh, New Castle, Weirton area has the 8th worst air in the US. Two weeks ago we got an F across board from the American Lung Association, Sulphur dioxide, particulates, and ozone. We are in the 12th Two out of 3 days we did not get a “good” air rating. Even New York City is in 40th percentile.
Truth: Allegheny County is the 21st worst county out of 3200 nationwide in terms of cancer risk due to air pollution.

Myth: “Our air pollution blows in from the states to our west. We can’t do anything about that.”
Allegheny is the third worst county nationwide in terms of cancer risk due to point source pollution (creating the pollution right here). It is not just from the Mon Valley, either. Ten of the 14 regional monitors had readings in the worst 25%. It is all over the area.

Truth: Improving our air quality can be a source of inspiration, innovation and jobs.

Sign up for the local poor air quality forecast

If it is poor, consider minimizing your impact.

Go to AirNow scroll to the bottom to have the air quality forecast emailed daily to your inbox.

If poor:

  • Skip mowing the lawn

  • Drive less – car pool, take public transportation, combine trips

  • Avoid open burning

If you smell something, say something

Get the Smell Pittsburgh app to report smells in your location. The app sends the information to CMU, allows you to see other bad air reports coming in that day, and sends it to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). ACHD is then required to respond to investigate the reports.  Download the app: Google Play, iPhone

Learn about poor air quality at your house and in the area

The Breathe Project is working to promote clean air and inspire healthy communities across southwestern Pennsylvania to improve poor air quality. Visit . Check out the breathe meter, Pittsburgh breathe cams and the pollution map – type in your address to find your color.

Take Action

The Clean Air Act and other EPA progress is under attack both nationally and locallyThe American Lung Association asks us to urge EPA Administrator to fully fund, implement and enforce the Clean Air Act for all pollutants—including those that drive climate change and make it harder to achieve healthy air for all.  Click Save the Clean Air Act. In addition, send the same message to President Biden and your congressional representatives.

What do you do when the air quality is really bad?

On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transportation.
  • Combine errands and reduce trips. Walk to errands when possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile; park instead of idling in the drive-thru.
  • Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler.
  • Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Defer lawn and gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.

 On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Take steps to minimize your exposure to air pollution and protect your health.

 The following summarizes actions to take when pollutants (O-Ozone, P-Particles, C-Carbon Monoxide and S – Sulfur) rise to unhealthy levels and above according to the Air Quality Index (AQI).

 Sensitive Groups. Sensitive groups of people vary based on the pollutant as shown below.  As AQI values rise, members of sensitive groups are more likely to experience health effects and those effects are more likely to be severe.

  • Ozone:People with lung disease such as asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk.
  • Particle pollution:People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk.
  • Carbon monoxide: People with heart disease, like angina, are at greater risk.
  • Sulfur dioxide: People with asthma, heart or lung disease and children are at greater risk

Green  Good (0 – 50)

Little or no health risk. Enjoy outdoor activities

Yellow  Moderate (51 – 100)

A very small number of people may experience moderate symptoms.

  • O, P – Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.
  • C, S – None

 Orange  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (101 – 150)

Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects, but the general public is unlikely to be affected.

Sensitive Groups:

  • O, P, C – reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
  • C – avoid sources of CO, such as heavy traffic
  • S – People with asthma should consider reducing exertion outdoors

Red  Unhealthy (151 – 200)

Everyone may begin to experience health effects when AQI values are between 151 and 200. Members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

Sensitive Groups:

  • O, P – avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
  • C – reduce moderate exertion;
  • C – avoid sources of CO, such as heavy traffic
  • S – reduce exertion outdoors

Everyone else:

  • O, P – should limit/reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion

 Purple  Very Unhealthy  (201 – 300)

Everyone may experience more serious health effects. A HEALTH ALERT is triggered.

Sensitive Groups:  STAY INSIDE

  • O, P – avoid all outdoor exertion
  • C – avoid outside exertion;
  • C – avoid sources of CO, such as heavy traffic
  • S – avoid exertion outdoors

Everyone else:

  • O – limit all outdoor exertion.
  • P – avoid prolonged or heavy outside exertion
  • S – reduce exertion outdoors

Looking for a supportive community to join?

UUCNH, located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and now serving the world through the Internet is a great place to find support and the friendship of other like-minded individuals and families.  Our upcoming services are listed below.  Why not use the form below to get more information about our church community?

Upcoming Services

General Assembly Service

July 3 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

*Please note that this service will be all virtual. General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Participants worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through the democratic process. View the pre-recorded Sunday morning worship service from this year’s UU General Assembly in Portland, OR.  The service will [...]

The summer of 1967 is known as the "Summer of Love".  Although the war in Viet Nam was still weighing heavily upon the national conscience, there was a feeling of optimism in the face of such trying times.  Join us for the service on July 10th as we take a whimsical look back and reclaim [...]

UUCNH: The Big Tent

July 17 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Representatives from Sunday Forum, Christian Perspective, and Covenant Groups discuss ........

Mary Oliver’s Inspiration

July 24 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Let’s experience the beauty and depth of poetry by Mary Oliver, whose work inspires many in the UU world and beyond.

You are always welcome to visit

The best way to experience our church community is to visit either online or in person.  If you want to register so we can expect you you can fill out the information on the link below.

Visitor Welcome