'It stinks': Heat wave emphasizes poor Delaware Valley air quality

Tuesday’s heat and humidity did not quite match the scorcher of Monday, but it was enough to be uncomfortable, until pop-up thunderstorms came through. And the heat hasn’t been good for the region’s already poor air quality.

"It’s bad. It stinks. Sometimes, in the summer, around 5 p.m., I don’t know what they release, but it’s stinking," stated a Marcus Hook resident.

Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania in the summer. Usually alright, but sometimes tough to breathe, say residents like Rich, who think it’s hotter here than elsewhere.

"Oh, it’s definitely hotter, and in the winter time, when it’s supposed to snow? We don’t get snow. We get rain. Constantly. There’s definitely something like a heat bubble over this whole town," Rich surmised.

He blames the jet fuel refinery across the street. Others blame the trash incinerator and the sewage plant a mile north, in Chester. Director of Environmental Health at the American Lung Association, Kevin Stewart, says the entire Philly region is flunking when it comes to clean air.

"The area continues to get F’s. And, when I say F’s, I mean significant F’s. That it’s not just barely failing. The grades that are assigned make the Philadelphia metro area 21st worst in the country for ozone smog," Stewart explained.

Big industry is a factor, he adds, but heavy transportation, all the way down to household solvents contribute, as well. But, the higher the temperatures mean higher levels of ozone smog, he adds, making it a direct correlation.

Melissa is Rich’s cousin. She moved to West Chester from Marcus Hook a few years back and the difference, she says, is real.

"Up there it’s more – you smell the trees, you smell nature. Down here, you smell chemicals!" Melissa exclaimed.

Kevin Stewart says pollution and the surrounding air quality is another direct correlation.

"If a neighborhood is very close to a polluting facility, the grades that the Lung Association gives out are of limited use, in this particular neighborhood, because we know that if you live with your nose up against a smokestack or a tailpipe? You’re going to have a big problem with air pollution. Even if the air in a general area is in a better state," Stewart stated.

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