Natural resources are among a community’s most valuable assets. Their benefits are easy to take for granted, but critical to our well-being, including clean air and water. Caring for the environment protects public health and ensures that unspoiled natural resources will remain available to future generations.

Overall, Erie County residents benefit from responsible environmental management. The county’s air quality has improved three years in a row, and nearly everyone who lives here has access to clean drinking water. County residents also are taking steps – albeit small ones – to reduce their carbon footprints by buying alternative-fuel vehicles in slightly larger numbers. There is, however, room to improve. While Erie generates less waste per person than the state average, the county’s recycling rate has been declining steadily for 10 years.

Air quality ratings measure levels of pollutants that can cause short-term respiratory distress and worsen existing medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. In 2017, 79% of days with air quality measurements in Erie County were rated as good, the second highest percentage recorded since 2000. By comparison, Luzerne County, PA has had consistently higher air quality ratings since 2006 than Erie.

In 2016, 100% of the population in Erie County had access to community water systems compliant with state standards for safe drinking water. This percentage has been consistent (at 99%-100%) since 2012.

Relatively few vehicles registered in Erie County (less than 1%) use fuel sources other than gasoline or diesel, such as electric, hybrid, flex fuel and natural gas, on par with the state’s share (0.6%). While Erie’s percentage has changed little since 2014, the raw number of alternative-fuel vehicles registered here increased 37%, from 912 in 2014 to 1,245 in 2017.

Recycling conserves raw materials, keeps waste out of landfills, and conserves energy compared with new material production. In 2015, 0.2 tons of waste per capita were recycled in Erie County, down from 0.6 in 2006. This means Erie County recycled 110,000 thousand fewer tons of waste than it did in 2006. The recycling rate in Luzerne County, PA in 2015 was significantly higher, at 0.5 tons per person.

Solid waste that is not recycled is typically disposed of in landfills or waste-to-energy facilities. Erie County generated 1 ton of solid waste per capita in 2017. This rate was simliar to five years earlier, but lower than the statewide rate of 1.2.

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employees Increasing
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Median Age Increasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Total Population Decreasing
Foreign Born Population Increasing
Household Types Not Applicable
Average Household Size Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Public Assistance Maintaining
Change in Average Salary Decreasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Employment by Sector Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty by Education Level Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Homeownership Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
Median Rent Maintaining
Student Performance in Grade 3 Reading Increasing
Student Performance in Grade 3 Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Maintaining
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Education Level of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Air Quality Increasing
Water Quality Maintaining
Recycling Tons Per Capita Maintaining
Solid Waste Per Capita Maintaining
Vehicles by Fuel Type Not Applicable
Mortality Rate Decreasing
Death from Heart Disease Decreasing
Death from Cancer Decreasing
Death from Stroke Decreasing
Death from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease Increasing
Hypertension Prevalance Increasing
Diabetes Prevalence Increasing
Asthma Increasing
People Without Healthcare Coverage Decreasing
People Without a Primary Care Physician Increasing
Routine Checkups Increasing
People Who Cannot Afford Healthcare Decreasing
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Increasing
Children Who are Overweight or Obese Increasing
Teens Who are Overweight or Obese Increasing
Adult Smokers Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Decreasing
Binge Drinking Maintaining
Infant Mortality Decreasing
Low Birth Weight Babies Not Applicable
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Non Smoking During Pregnancy Increasing
Early Prenatal Care Increasing