EPA Announces Air Toxics Monitoring Near Schools

May 8, 2008
by MICHAEL NINES
Client Alert Newsletter May 2009

On March 31, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") released a list of priority schools for air quality monitoring as part of an initiative to understand whether outdoor toxic air pollution poses health concerns to schoolchildren. Initial monitoring will take place at 62 schools in 22 states. EPA selected the schools using a number of factors, including results from a computer modeling analysis, a recent newspaper series on air toxics at schools, and consultation with state and local agencies responsible for air quality. EPA is following an aggressive timeline to begin sampling air outside the schools, focusing on some schools near large industries and some schools in urban areas, where emissions of air toxics come from a mix of large and small industries, cars, trucks, buses, and other sources.

Schools included in the monitoring program in our region are Paulsboro High School (Paulsboro, NJ), Riverside Elementary Middle School (Reading, PA), and Kreutz Creek Valley Elementary (Hallam, PA). Air toxics to be monitored include hexavalent chromium (Cr+6), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbonyls, and metals in particulate matter (PM-10). Monitoring at the schools will be phased in over the next three months. Monitors placed at each school will sample air quality on 10 different days during a 60 day time period to generate a snapshot of any toxics present in the outdoor air. EPA is asking state and local agencies to install and operate the monitors.

Once the air toxics data for a school are quality-assured, EPA will analyze the results to estimate how exposure to the outdoor air around the school might affect health over the long-term. Results from the monitoring will be made available to the public through EPA's website.