Officials address air quality concerns over massive Lackawanna fire

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Smoke and debris carried far into neighborhoods around the huge fire that broke out at the former Bethlehem Steel site Wednesday.

The fire was declared “under control” Wednesday evening, but concerns linger over the air quality in that area.

“The air quality testing so far has been normal and hasn’t identified any volatile matter, so that’s good news,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner.

Crews will monitor the air over the next few days. Environmental specialists say testing will most likely be done by a handheld device that sucks in air to measure particulates.

Although health officials say the air quality is good, Dr. Burstein says breathing in any smoke could be bad for your health.

“Smoke always contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter that can be toxic and really effect people’s health, especially the very young and the elderly,” said Dr. Burstein.

Inhaling the smoke can cause headaches, difficulty breathing and coughing. Officials expect an unpleasant smell to linger in the area for a few days, but health experts say the odor itself poses zero health risks.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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