The Lung Association Coughs up More Drivel

If it is April, it must be time for the American Lung Association to slander Pittsburgh with the claim that it has filthy air. And yes, it is the same old story. Virtually the entire southwest region of Pennsylvania is labeled as having high particulate pollution based on two monitoring locations, both just downwind from factories with relatively high particle releases. But monitors in the rest of the region continue to show the air to be perfectly acceptable. Indeed, counties with no monitors are deemed polluted because they happen to fall in the EPA’s western Pennsylvania district that contains the two offending monitors.

For several years the fallacies in the American Lung Association’s annual report on Pittsburgh have been pointed out so vociferously that almost no one who has bothered to look at what they are doing assigns any credibility to their asininity.

As we noted in a Policy Brief dated May 1 last year, the mortality rates for every age group in polluted southern California are lower than the rates in Laramie, Wyoming which consistently ranks among the cleanest air cities in the nation. We asked the Lung Association to explain this and to determine to what extent air quality plays a role in determining age specific mortality rates and why the discrepancy in their implicit predictions of what will happen and what is actually happening with death rates is so large. We are still waiting for those answers.

City Ranking Ironies

Yet another ranking isannounced and Pittsburgh does well coming in 11th on the Sperling ranking of security. Predictably, City of Pittsburgh officials jump on the good score and explain how the City is doing all the right things to justify the award. The problem is-as we have commented on earlier rankings-the ranking is for the seven county region. The City itself would do poorly on public education, crime, and government finances. Only because of much better education in suburban school districts and much lower crime rates in outlying counties does the region do so well on these rankings.

Beyond the numbers themselves, there is no end of irony in the rankings. Ranked ahead of Pittsburgh are Syracuse, NY, Rochester NY, and El Paso TX. One would have thought the rankers would have noticed that just across the river from El Paso is Ciudad Juarez, the murder rate capital of North America, if not the world. Syracuse and Rochester are located in a state teetering on the brink of financial meltdown and are not well known as places anyone would want to move to.

There is much to like about the Pittsburgh region. But the region and the City face financially crippling public sector union issues; the state has a tort system that discourages private sector growth as well as an unfriendly business tax and regulatory climate. For some reason, these items never factor in the much ballyhooed city rankings.