Air pollution is surrounding the Morgantown area

Hello Morgantowners,
Those of you walking on Beechurst day to day, you should be aware that your life is at risk. Not by drunk students. Not by burning couches. Not by parking. But, by the toxic fumes emitted by all the vehicles stuck in traffic and old coal-powered plants.


Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.31.59 AM

Current traffic in Morgantown @ 11:30 a.m.


City officials have recognized that Morgantown’s air pollution is close to failing air quality standards regulated by  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Consequently, the city of Morgantown is at risk of losing federal funding. Without federal funding, Morgantown will be unable to design, develop and execute a plan to meet air quality standards or maintain its roads. Mountaineer News Service interviewed Jeff Mikorski, Morgantown’s interim City Manager, regarding the issue.

“If [non-attainment] happens, the EPA says we can’t use any federal money for anything other than cleaning up air quality,” said Mikorski.

Morgantown is exposed to three pollutants:

1) Sulfur dioxideMorgantown’s main air pollutant, which results from burning coal and crude oil in coal-powered plants. Congested vehicles within the city, also, add more to the problem.

2) Particulate matter: a wide range of pollutants — dust, soot, fly ash, diesel exhaust particles, wood smoke and sulfate aerosols — which are suspended as tiny particles in the air. These particulates irritate and damage human lungs. They come from vehicle exhausts and the burning of coal

3) ground level ozone: (smog) created by chemical reactions from fumes released by cars, trucks, and other vehicles.  Ozone levels trigger on hot, sunny days, but are also worse on cold, snowy days.

“Studies show that all of these pollutants can cause asthma attacks, lung disease and exacerbate heart conditions.” -Mountaineer News Service

So what can we do?

1) Address Morgantown’s traffic problem

2) Improving WVU’s public transportation systems (the PRT and Mountainline buses)

3) Limiting the number of commercial vehicles driving through the city

4) Destroy the obsolete coal-powered plant along the Mon River, which is not compliant with EPA regulations anyway



Coal fired power plant in Maidsville, WV emits toxic fumes from its smoke stacks.

Photo credit: Mountaineer News Service

West Virginia is wild…but not so wonderful. Morgantown desperately needs a combined effort from students, residents, the university and the city.


Let’s clean up this mess!


5 thoughts on “Air pollution is surrounding the Morgantown area

  1. Great post! I had always wondered about the air pollution in Morgantown because of all the traffic. I know I have sat in traffic for at least 45 minutes sometimes downtown. That does kind of worry me about what it’s doing to the environment. You provide a lot of good information here and make it very relatable to the people of Morgantown.


  2. Interesting post, I really like how you incorporated the map. With the amount of traffic that most of us have to sit through everyday, the high levels of air pollution are not surprising. This is especially worrisome for people who run or bike daily on the trails downtown.


  3. This post is absolutely incredible! First off, I had no idea Morgantown was that much at risk. We’re failing EPA standards? Then we definitely need to work hard to improve because we NEED that federal funding. Without it, who knows how bad the pollution is going to get, especially with the school’s plan to increase the student population within the coming years. Next, it’s great that you educated us about what we’re breathing in. Coming from Philadelphia, I always felt like the air was cleaner here. Maybe not. And lastly, I love your call to action. Thinking ahead and providing possible solutions is a very effective move—one Morgantown should take note of.


  4. Morgantown needs to fix the air quality here. With the town being built in a valley the pollutants stay trapped in Morgantown. The city needs to make changes to increase the air quality and protect the people who live here.


  5. I really like this post and the way you included the map in it. Morgantown, and other cities in West Virginia, should start working on preventing air pollution as soon as possible. However, it is not easy to limit the number of cars and fix the PRT.


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