Earth Day 2021: Philly, Allegheny Co. get ‘Fs’ on air quality in new report | Thursday Morning Coffee

April 22, 2021 7:14 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s Earth Day 2021 in America and in Pennsylvania. So what better time to step back and take stock of the health of one of our most important natural resources: the very air that we breathe.

new report by the American Lung Association gave letter grades to nearly all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. And for its two largest, it’s off to clean air summer school: Philadelphia and Allegheny County each got an ‘F’ from the Lung Association for high ozone days.

But before suburbanites in Philadelphia’s four collar counties start getting too smug, you have some remedial work ahead of you as well. Bucks and Montgomery counties each got an ‘F’ from the Lung Association, while Chester and Delaware counties received a ‘D’ grade in the report for the same metric.

Counties also were graded for particle pollution. The report includes data from 2017, 2018 and 2019, which is “the most recent quality-assured nationwide air pollution data publicly available,” the document reads.

“The American Lung Association’s 2021 ‘State of the Air’ report shows that despite some nationwide progress on cleaning up air pollution, more than 40 percent of Americans live with unhealthy ozone or particle pollution,” the Lung Association’s director of environmental health, Kevin Stewart, said in a statement. “People of color are significantly more likely to breathe polluted air than white people. As the nation works to address climate change and continue reducing air pollution, we must prioritize the health of disproportionately burdened communities.”

Below, a look at how Pennsylvania’s most populous counties finished across the two grading areas.

(Image via

Grade, by county, high ozone days:
Berks County: D
Blair County: A
Centre County: A
Cumberland County: DNC (no monitor collecting such data)
Dauphin County: B
Erie County: B
Lackawanna County: A
Lancaster County: C
Lebanon County: B
Lehigh County: C
Luzerne County: B
Northampton County: D

Grade, by county, particle pollution:
Allegheny County: F
Berks County: D
Blair County: B
Bucks County: DNC (no monitor collecting such data)
Centre County: B
Chester County: B
Cumberland County: C
Dauphin County: C
Delaware County: C
Erie County: A
Lackawanna County: A
Lancaster County: F
Lebanon County: C
Lehigh County: C
Luzerne County: DNC (no monitor collecting such data)
Montgomery County: A
Northampton County: B
Philadelphia: A

You can read the full grading list for all 67 counties here.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Stephen Caruso
 chats with House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove, R-Yorkabout his panel’s spree of hearings on election-related issues, how he might proceed legislatively, and what talks with the Democratic Wolf administration will look like — among many other matters.

A bill aiding abuse survivors has cleared a key state Senate committee hurdle. But will it get a vote before the full Senate? With opposition from the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, that’s an open question, Elizabeth Hardison reports.

Pittsburgh Correspondent Kim Lyons talks to the Democratic challengers looking to unseat Steel City Mayor Bill Peduto in next month’s primary election — and with the man himself.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for paid time off for vaccinations as the U.S. hit its 200 million shot goal, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson writes.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for federal background checks on ammunition salesCapital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa writes.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz makes the pro-abortion rights case for keeping the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for abortions in the federal Medicaid program except in exceptional circumstances. And a trio of experts go deep on the Chauvin verdict, and explain why the case is different from past police brutality cases.

The Inquirer 
looks at the new pandemic debate: How long do we need to keep wearing masks?
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, a physician, got the COVID jab. But he opposes requiring any government document to prove it, the Post-Gazette reports.
With the city averaging 600 new cases daily, Philadelphia’s zip codes lead the state in COVID casesPennLive reports (paywall).
Lehigh University will require students to have COVID-19 vaccinations this fall, the Morning Call reports. Human remains have been found during search for Linda Stoltzfoos, an Amish teen who has been missing since JuneLancasterOnline reports.
The Citizens’ Voice updates on efforts to vaccinate Luzerne County residents who are experiencing homelessness.
Protective orders rose in York County in 2020, the York Daily Record reports (paywall).

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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WHYY-FM has the story on the four Black men killed by Philly police who have yet to face a jury.
Workers in Pa. prisons aren’t getting vaccinatedSpotlight PA explains why that’s a problem.
A PAC representing Black Democrats is airing radio ads in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh criticizing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman over the 2013 incident in which he pulled a gun on an unarmed Black man, PoliticsPA reports.
An Erie blood bank has put out an urgent call for donors, GoErie reports.
The Observer-Reporter profiles Washington County young people who are active in the fight against climate change.
Some states are hitting a vaccine hesitancy wall, reports.
Roll Call has the 10 issues to watch during the White House’s climate summit.

What Goes On.
Here’s a look at the day’s committee action.
First up, the Senate:
10 a.m, Senate Chamber: Appropriations Committee: Budget hearing for the Dept. of Health
12 p.m, Live Streamed: Democratic Policy Committee
2 p.m., Senate Chamber: Appropriations Committee: Office of the Budget/Governor’s Office and the Department of General Services.

In the House:
9 a.m, G50 Irvis: Health Committee
10 a.m, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa.: House Democratic Policy Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
6 p.m.: Cocktail reception for Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia. Admission runs $250 to $10,000.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Megan Healey Augustine in the office of Rep. Matt Bradford, and to PennLive’s Ron Southwick, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, friends.

Heavy Rotation.
I’ve been a little obsessed with early 80s popsters Japan of late. The band never quite found its moment. But a recent reissue of its third record, 1979’s ‘Quiet Life,’ highlights the influence they exerted on bands that came after them, particularly Duran Duran, who have admitted to their influence. Here’s the title track, which sounds like it easily could have been a single from an early Duran LP.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Baltimore got blanked, 3-0, by the Marlins 
on Wednesday night. The Os are 8-10, and currently sit third in the AL East.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.