PFAS chemicals are ubiquitous. A Pitt scientist is working to protect you from thousands of types at once.

A single PFAS chemical featured in the movie “Dark Waters” last year about contamination from a Teflon plant in Parkersburg, W.Va. resulted in a $670 million court settlement. A community study showed the chemical was linked to six diseases: kidney cancer, increased cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, preeclampsia and testicular cancer. 

But that chemical, PFOA, is just one of the more than 4,000 types of PFAS chemicals that scientists believe could undermine human health across the world. While most researchers study a handful of these chemicals at most, Carla Ng is one of the few scientists trying to find an approach that works for all of them. “So without a lot of data, how are we going to tackle all these?” Ng, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, asked a group of scientists at a PFAS toxicology conference in 2019, where she was the only scientist invited to give two presentations. 

To make headway, Ng is building more sophisticated animal models and studying the chemicals through computer simulations.

A tale of displacement: A year-long fight against a landlord shows the struggles facing renters forced to move.

The long locs Linda Robinson lost by the fistfuls to chemotherapy five years ago had finally grown back when she lost her braids again, this time to a stressful eviction proceeding. “We, Black women, our crown is our hair,” said Robinson, 68, noting that in the Black community, hairstyle is a lifestyle. 

Robinson added, “When you lose your crown, it’s devastating.” 

Robinson scrambled to find housing before being forced out, even though her displacement was not due to a problem paying rent. And while her troubles began before COVID-19 shuttered the economy and prompted Gov. Tom Wolf to order a moratorium on evictions, her journey through the legal system is instructive to the tens of thousands of out-of-work Pennsylvanians that lawmakers and housing advocates expect will be swept up in a wave of evictions once filings resume. In an unprecedented move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] on Sept. 4 issued a temporary moratorium that expires at the end of the year.

Brothers Michael (left) and Nicholas (right) Troiani in one of their buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh's Firstside district. They say deteriorating brick makes it impossible to save the structures. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

A tale of two districts: In Strip and Firstside, the Peduto administration cheers some development, stops other plans

From the surging center of the Strip District to the crumbling flank of Downtown’s Firstside Historic District, it’s 2.1 miles by car. But those places seemed like different cities this week. In the Strip on Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto joined developer Jack Benoff in a sunny parking lot next to an active construction site for the groundbreaking of the Forte Condos project. Though nary a brick has been laid, half of the planned 50 market-rate homes are already sold, Peduto said. “Even during COVID, we’re staying busy.

Local businesses say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ But what does that mean for Pittsburgh nightlife?

On “Blackout Tuesday” in early June, many organizations across the country took to social media to signal support for the nationwide uprising against racism, the movement sparked by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Pittsburgh businesses, especially those in the South Side, Pittsburgh’s well-known nightlife destination, took to social media to signal support for Black Lives Matter. But some Black patrons and performers reject these proclamations.

‘Welcome to the movement’: Hundreds rally against police brutality, racism at Allderdice, in Bloomfield and Fox Chapel

Hundreds gathered at Allderdice High School and in Bloomfield and Fox Chapel borough on June 11, the 13th day of Black Lives Matter protests in Pittsburgh. 

Those in attendance carried signs, participated in chants and listened to impassioned speakers who called on the crowds to show solidarity with Black students and residents in the Pittsburgh area along with those who have experienced police brutality. "Welcome to the movement because we are going to need every single one of you ... Oppressive institutions don't get to tell the oppressed how to fight for their freedom." —State Rep. Summer Lee

In Bloomfield, skateboarders convened to honor George Floyd and others taken by police violence. At one point in their rolling march, they shut down traffic on Bloomfield Bridge and the Black Lives Matter demonstration ended in Friendship Park.

The traffic court cashier window at Pittsburgh Municipal Court in Downtown.

Allegheny County selected to participate in national fine and fee reform initiative following PublicSource investigation

Allegheny County is one of 10 locales selected to participate in a national initiative on fine and fee reform. The announcement follows a PublicSource investigation of the impacts of court debt in Allegheny County. There is more than $350 million in unpaid court debt in the county dating back to 1970. For residents who are unable to pay their fines and fees, the implications are severe: nonpayment can result in arrest warrants, driver’s license suspensions and even jail time.  

As an inaugural member of the Cities & Counties for Fine and Fee Justice, the county was awarded $50,000 to put toward reform efforts. It will work with policy experts and other cohort members over 18 months to develop “bold, innovative solutions,” according to a press release.