It isn't exactly advertised, but the city water around the cmu-google-downtown region has failed tests many times, and at least on two occasions the city provided water filters due to contaminants. This is mostly due to how old the city is, rusty and lead pipes in old homes are impossible for the city to track and fix. This is true everywhere in the rust belt.
Air quality in Pittsburgh gets really bad once you go out past googles neck of the woods, that used to be covered in steel mills, plastics manufacturing, coal and trash burning plants. I understand the desire to live near work, but please don't move near bakery square. They can try to cover it up, but I'm sure the ground is contaminated as well. The entire thing used to be a factory before they bulldozed it in the early 2000s. And nearly all the land near a river will have been used by industry at some point. There's a reason why you can pick 4 locals and at least one has asthma.
Edit: for fun, here's a reminder of what the city looked like during the steel days. You couldn't wear white clothing because of the soot in the air. http://cdn.citylab.com/media/img/citylab/legacy/2012/06/05/p...
There is a lot of feeling in the parent comment, but not a lot of fact. Just because you can smell the pollution in Pittsburgh doesn't mean that it's any worse than the cities with that have lower air quality ratings due to odorless contaminants.
Every city can do better. Just don't expect them to install giant fans on top of Mt Washington to blow away some odor.
It shouldn't be that hard to track at all with a little brainpower. When did we stop using lead and iron piping? Add another 10 years forward and start from that date back, and find every home matching the age/time range.
Everything else should be copper and/or plastic.
Edit: Another consideration - I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a "lead scale" like with lime or calcium which could even hang around in "good" copper pipes. Someone more familiar with chemistry or water/wastewater engineering could probably give a more educated answer.
Who says we stopped? Water mains often have service life > 100 years. Old buildings have old plumbing.
My guess is they do have (some) data, but it's split among departments, in different formats. Assuming detailed records were kept that far back.
You'd assume I'm an armchair analyst instead of someone that actually does civil planning work.
They have ALL of that data. It's in the damned city plats. Go pay $20 and get a copy of your neighborhood's electrical and piping. Hell you can actually look it up for free online using ARCGIS.
Personal opinion: lots of cities have specific quality-of-life issues of varying degrees; in the Mountain View area now, I could equally complain about Superfund sites from all the early silicon industry dumping. Overall in Pittsburgh, the walkability, easy access to hikes through large parks in city limits, lack of stress about high rents, etc., probably outweighed an occasional whiff of sulfur wrt my quality of life. Everyone is of course welcome to make that tradeoff differently!
This is not at all scientific, but I just looked at AQI for Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, and NYC:
* PGH: 34
* Palo Alto: 32
* NY region: 50
List of City rankings from American Lung Association: https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-r...
I used to live in Pittsburgh and would wake up with a metallic taste in my mouth if I left the windows open. Going outside almost always smelled like burnt tires or some small hint of coins, even when I’d walk around in parks early in the morning before there was any traffic.
I had friends from Beijing complain about the foulness of Pittsburgh’s air. Visiting Beijing, I realized they weren’t joking. It’s visibly smoggy over there, but in Pittsburgh, clear days will reek worse than even smoggy cities.
Regardless, AQI measurements are relatively aggregate, and if the pollution is produced very locally, it might be off the charts in that location, but diffuse down to a moderate measurement on a broader scale.
After a quick google, this article supports the idea that air quality in Pittsburgh is awful. https://www.ehn.org/pittsburghs-air-quality-continues-to-dec...
That’s not to say he isn’t right, of course. But for me Pittsburgh was an awesome, safe, affordable, and surprisingly culturally rich city that I was sad to have to leave.
If you want some charts it looks it really does very by section of the city as well .
I know people in the area and they responded by getting a Purple Air quality monitor and indoor air purifiers. The simply staying inside when the it was particularly bad day. Which definitely echos China’s big cities, and not in a good way.
0 - https://www.post-gazette.com/local/2019/04/24/Pittsburgh-reg...
1 - https://www.wesa.fm/post/pittsburghs-air-quality-better-past...
To me, Pittsburgh’s air quality seems comparable to other cities.
This isn't a court of law. We don't need to crucify people for providing their experiences...
I have lived in the bay for the last 8 years. When there are no fires burning, the bay air quality is amazing and I don’t take it for granted and factor it into my reasons for staying here.
I have seriously considered moving back to Pittsburgh because it’s really a great city. Along with the mediocre air quality, the relatively high number of overcast days in Pittsburgh effectively discourages me, I like sunshine a lot.
2. Software developer realizes there is an air problem.
3. Software developer advises other software developers to avoid the city.
Why, in this process of events isn't he appealing to the local government more - as a member of a workforce that is able to afford moving pretty trivially and can actually reside in crazy locales like SF it's rather depressing to see lines like:
> I credit myself with discouraging at least a dozen contacts in the tech industry from considering Pittsburgh until the situation improves.
Without even a spare moment's thought to the residents in Pittsburgh that are stuck there.
It seems like he's at least tried.
How is this not the emptiest and most self-righteous form of virtue-signaling we get on HN?
How could you write this comment instead of volunteering at your local soup kitchen and petitioning the government to end homelessness? You'll have to try harder to appease my arbitrary internet expectations of you, or I'll call you out.
I wouldn't expect anyone to subject their children and family and themselves to something they believe is unhealthy if they can afford not to. And I don't see what else this person could do other than support politicians who will empower the EPA.
> only option is to leave
Classic black and white thinking HN-style weakness.
It’s complicated and involves someone’s entire life circumstances. There’s no catch-all function which only takes the parameter `airQuality` that people adhere to like machines.
Families get entrenched. People have real estate. Culture melds with you. You get connected to the local politics. There are so many reasons that one would attempt to improve or accept their local situation instead of leaving.
I would be shocked if I met someone who would sacrifice their family's health if they had a decent option where they wouldn't have to. This probably doesn't apply to most people, as they might have to weigh trade offs such as moving away from family and whatnot, but the person who wrote the article is obviously earning far above most, and can afford to easily move.
Our water quality is awful too, we have boil advisories a few times a year after they find lead. They just approved fracking in the Mon Valley against the public's wishes, and closer to the river than environmental groups recommended, so it's just gonna get worse.
It's an incredibly car-centric city, so there's new pollution being spread everywhere every day. I've been trying to find a job elsewhere for 2 years, hopefully eventually I can leave. There are other up-and-coming cities more worth your time.
The lead issue was a one-time, grevious error - The city outsourced the management of the water plant to a commercial vendor, who changed the mix of lead prevention chemicals in order to save money. Needless to say, that worked out poorly. Vincent's taking control back of the PWSA, and introduced orthophosphate into the water supply to control the lead from old pipes, and it's pretty good again.
From what I understand the long standing polluters like the clairton coke works are still going strong and there have been several new cracking plants built to support the fracking industry.
This is on top of diesel pollution which is much more apparent then gasoline pollution in the states. If enough cars are idling you can taste it!
I'm sure there are statistics, but my impression is the huge increase in electric and hybrid buses, plus electric vehicles generally, has made a big improvement. The diesel black cabs still remain, and are probably the worst offender.
I would cycle on backstreets 95% of the time in London, to avoid the pollution.
I remember the early days of those articles they often came up with random bedroom communities / suburbs that just fit the stats, or excelled at a few stats and that tipped the balance.
Turned out to be a random suburb with a female prison.
But yes, it's low!
All these claims about the cognitive problems resulting from pollution don’t adequately explain how so many good universities and schools world over are in polluted urban areas.