PITTSBURGH - The City of Pittsburgh has retrofitted 14 garbage trucks in its 47-truck city fleet with pollution controls that reduce the amount of soot emissions by 90 percent, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Allegheny County Health Department also recently received $443,100 to install pollution controls on the other 33 waste hauling trucks as part of more than $1.2 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money Pennsylvania is using to reduce diesel vehicle emissions and improve air quality in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.
Rachel Filippini, executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), said the federal economic stimulus money is a welcome boost for vehicle retrofit programs in the region.
GASP and another environmental group, Clean Water Action, have led efforts by the Allegheny County Partnership to Reduce Diesel Pollution to retrofit school buses and the city's trash and recycling diesel truck fleet.
"This is a very important project for the city," Filippini said, "not only for residents in the neighborhoods where these trucks idle and run but also for the workers, who will benefit by reduced occupational exposure."
Diesel-powered waste hauling vehicles and school buses are big contributors to elevated levels of toxic, microscopic airborne particulates, commonly called soot, because of their many stops, idling and restarts in neighborhoods. Each retrofit of a truck will cost approximately $11,000.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the refuse truck retrofit program is part of an overall city strategy to create a "culture of sustainability" in all city and county departments and neighborhoods.
In Eastern Pennsylvania, the recovery act money will go to retrofit school buses in Adams, Dauphin, and Montgomery counties, and baggage tractors at the Philadelphia International Airport.