For 150 years, Millvale has sat opposite of Lawrenceville on the Allegheny River, sharing in many of the economic successes of the region. When most of industry left Pittsburgh with a trail of economic and environmental distress, Millvale shared in that as well. One of those environmental distresses is the shared impact of regional air pollution.
Since the floods of 2004 and 2007, Millvale has emerged as a leader in neighborhood scale sustainability planning and development, with grassroots, resident driven efforts to reverse course. Starting in 2012, Millvale adopted the EcoDistrict planning process which helps steer Millvale’s sustainable economic development through the lens of sustainability, with programming in the areas of food, water, energy, mobility, equity, and air quality.
Air quality was chosen as a planning area because research shows that the Pittsburgh region, while better than it once was, still carries some of the worst air quality in the country, with Allegheny County being in the top 2% for cancers caused by air pollution.
While we knew air quality was likely a problem, we had no idea what type of impacts our community was experiencing and what community members could do about it. This is when we started to get involved with ROCIS (Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces) in earnest with the Millvale Community Library.
We quickly started to confirm what ROCIS cohorts were already observing elsewhere; the air quality is usually worse outside than it is inside, and that our indoor air quality fluctuated, trending closely with outdoor air quality.