Founded in 1868, the McConway & Torley steel foundry touts itself as a neighborhood staple thanks to their worldwide success in automatic train coupler manufacturing. Emissions from the foundry include benzene, particulate matter, gaseous nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, and metal toxics such as manganese, chromium, and lead.

In formerly blue-collar Lawrenceville, residents worry how foundry emissions could impact the future

Although air quality in Lawrenceville isn't breaking federal laws, some air quality advocates are concerned that the levels of some harmful pollutants, like manganese, have been increasing. The challenge in Lawrenceville mirrors the challenge Allegheny County has faced to rein in industrial polluters in the Mon Valley, where excessive pollution has caused the county to earn an F grade from the American Lung Association.

How Karen Hacker worked to resuscitate the Allegheny County Health Department

Hacker, the county’s highest paid employee with a salary of more than $220,000, said she thinks she should be judged on the progress she’s helped to usher in, including reduced lead poisoning in children, fewer opioid overdose deaths and a steady decline in air pollution that is on the verge of coming into compliance with the law.

But a number of constraints made the work difficult.