(information last updated Fall 2017)

Ongoing Projects:

State Project:

DEP solicits data collected by volunteers, provided that it complies with the quality assurance protocol developed by the state.  See Data Submission Form, PA Dep’t of Envtl. Prot. (2016), available here.  DEP uses this data to comply with the Clean Water Act § 303(d) listing requirement.  Id.

Smell PGH is a smartphone application available for smartphone users in Pittsburgh, allowing them to report foul odors and related symptoms. This app has the capability to alert the Allegheny County Health Department.  See Ashley Murray, Carnegie Mellon Scientists Use App to Track Foul Odors in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Jul. 3 2017), available at

Trespassing Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  A person commits criminal trespass if, “knowing that he is not licensed to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by: . . . posting . . . [or] fencing[.]”  18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3503.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“A person commits the crime of stalking when the person either:

    (1)  engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person; or

    (2)  engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicates to another person under circumstances which demonstrate or communicate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.”  18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.1.

Use of Information:

Provisions that address the use of information collected by citizens:

Explicitly Allows:

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is authorized to receive citizen-collected air quality information.  See 25 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 139.2.

Prohibitive by Effect:

DEP may only accept citizen-collected air quality information if “(1) [DEP] has been given reasonable notice of the sampling and testing and has been given reasonable opportunity to observe and participate in the sampling and testing.  (2) The sampling and testing is conducted under the direct supervision of persons qualified, by training and experience, to conduct the sampling and testing.  (3) Procedures for the sampling and testing are in accord with [DEP’s standard].  (4) The reports of the sampling and testing are accurate and comprehensive.”  25 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 139.2.

Evidentiary Standard:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that “the factual allegations have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”  Pa. R. Civ. P. No. 1023.1.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“To satisfy the requirement of authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.”  Pa. R. Evid. 901.

Expert Testimony:

Frye for novel science.  See Com. v. Walker, 92 A.3d 766, 789-90 (Pa. 2014); Grady v. Frito-Lay, Inc., 839 A.2d 1038, 1047 (Pa. 2003).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.