Pittsburgh: a hub for steel production, not without consequences

Most Pennsylvania residents know all about Pittsburgh because of its champion sports teams. History buffs may also recall the downtown area as a central figure in the nation's steel industry boom, just before World War II. If you grew up near or around Pittsburgh, you and your family members may have worked in a steel mill or in a nearby factory or business. Decades have passed since Pittsburgh steel mills were productive, active workplaces; however, the adverse health effects of those who worked or lived nearby continue to surface.

One researcher reports that those born in mill towns have substantially higher rates of mortality than people born in non-steel factory areas. You or your loved ones may have developed symptoms of ill-health related to diseases such as mesothelioma or asbestosis after living near or working in a steel mill. Support networks exist for people in your situation, and it often helps to speak with and listen to others with shared experiences. It also helps to know where to turn for legal support.

Steel town facts that may apply to your situation

If you grew up in Pittsburgh or another steel mill region, you may have been at greater risk for adverse health conditions if your home was built on lower elevation. In short, the closer you were on the ground to the actual mills, the higher your chances of suffering ill-health effects. The following list provides additional information extensive research has shown:

  • The refining and melting processes associated with steel work may not only have placed workers at risk for health problems but also created mass air pollution that affected the general population of nearby areas.
  • Coal burning, in particular, releases CO2, which medical science shows places people at risk for asthma, certain cancers and other adverse health conditions.
  • Gaseous and metallic particles released into the air may have embedded themselves deep into the respiratory tracts of workers and nearby residents.
  • Some studies show migration patterns, income level and education affect overall health conditions; therefore, similar toxic exposures may not affect all people the same.
  • Evidence suggests those born in mill towns may have increased mortality rates by more than six percent.

One study followed approximately 200,000 people born in mill towns with more than one factory in a small geographical location who later moved away from those towns. Results showed that those individuals still experienced higher mortality rates that others who were not born or raised in mill towns. Like most Pennsylvania residents, especially those who have family histories connected to Pittsburgh steel mills, you are no doubt proud of your heritage and the significant role the steel mills hold in the nation's industrial history.

However, if you also happen to be one of many who have experienced ill-health effects you believe are somehow related to your work or residence in or near a steel mill, you'll be glad to know there is support available to help you get the care you need and address the issues at hand.

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Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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