Presto quoted on Allegheny County air pollution
Pittsburgh City Paper

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in the Pittsburgh City Paper on the impact of industrial pollution in Allegheny County in the context of regional topography. Presto said his research doesn’t always yield expected results, but the bigger picture is still clear. “Air pollution is a huge environmental injustice, right, systematically at like the national level and a local level,” Presto said.

Gordon comments on release of benzene into the air

ChemE’s Hamish Gordon spoke with WTAE about a recent accidental release of benzene into the air from the Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA. While benzene is a toxic volatile organic compound, Gordon thinks acute or immediate health effects from this release are unlikely.


Donahue quoted on toxic residue from Indiana plastics fire
Associated Press

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted by the Associated Press after asbestos was discovered in debris from a fire at a scrap plastics business in Indiana. Donahue explained that any significant disturbance, such as a structural failure, can release microscopic asbestos fibers, which can then be lifted and dispersed by a fire plume.

Sullivan comments about the unique chemical bonds found in PFAS-containing firefighting foams in the Military Times
Military Times

ChemE’s Ryan Sullivan makes a comment about the unique chemical bonds found in PFAS-containing firefighting foams in Military Times. “[Fluorine is] the strongest bond you can make to carbon, and so that makes the molecules very persistent,” Sullivan says.


Donahue comments about chemicals transported by rail

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue spoke with WTAE for their Chronicle episode “Trouble on the Tracks.” Donahue commented on some of the hazardous chemicals transported by train. He advocated for the government to hold the rail industry to higher safety standards and shared his concerns about the unintended formation of dioxins after derailments release chemicals.

Presto talks about the chemical effects of the East Palestine train derailment
NBC News

MechE’s Albert Presto talks to Fortune and NBC News about the after effects of the East Palestine train derailment and the chemicals’ effects on the town’s residents.“We didn’t see any hot spots, places with high concentrations,” Presto says about contaminants such as benzene, toluene, xylenes, and vinyl chloride. However, he acknowledges the high levels of acrolein in the environment which could cause some long-term health concerns.

Sullivan talks to The Washington Post about the danger of air fresheners
The Washington Post

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan talks with The Washington Post about how air fresheners can actually have serious adverse effects on consumers. “To a chemist ‘really clean’ would actually be no scent because the scent is caused by a chemical. Truly clean means very low levels of chemicals,” Sullivan says. He expresses concern toward the chemicals potentially causing hormone disruption and even cancer. Instead, he recommends naturally sourced essential oils as a way to combat household odors.

Donahue fact checks claim about vinyl chloride ban
USA Today

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was interviewed by USA Today about the claim circulating on social media that vinyl chloride was banned in 1974. The use of vinyl chloride in aerosols was banned in 1974, shortly after it was established that vinyl chloride was carcinogenic. Donahue noted that vinyl chloride is still used in other ways, most commonly PVC piping.


Donahue quoted in article fact-checking toxic clouds after Ohio train derailment

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted by Snopes about the viral video allegedly showing toxic clouds after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. He thinks the clouds in the video were there regardless of the accident and chemical burn. The black smoke plume seen rising from the tanker fire, however, could well be called a toxic cloud, according to Donahue.



Presto quoted on new ethane cracker

MechE’s Abert Presto was quoted about air quality in the Allegheny Front’s article about residents’ concern over the new Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County. Presto’s research group has installed monitors near the cracker.


Donahue quoted in article on adding butane to gasoline

ChemE’s Neil Donahue was interviewed for a WTAE article on the possible environmental impacts of the White House proposal to put butane in gasoline in an effort to reduce gas prices. The article explains that butane evaporates extremely fast “The fact that it likes to evaporate from the gasoline instead of going through the engine is what makes it a serious thing when it comes to ozone pollution,” said Neil Donahue, “We pay in people getting sick.”


Sullivan and Gordon receive DOE award

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan and the Accelerator’s Hamish Gordon have received funding from the Department of Energy for atmospheric research. They will use the award to continue studying how ice nucleating particles emitted by wildfires could affect cloud microphysics, precipitation, and climate.