Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools | Region 10 | US EPA

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Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools

Watch a recording of EPA's March 15 public meeting
at St. Helens Elementary in Longview

EPA hosted a public meeting at St. Helens Elementary School in Longview, Wash. to share results of our School Air Toxics Monitoring Study. Representatives from EPA, Southwest Clean Air Agency, Cowlitz County Health and the Department of Ecology answered questions from school staff, parents and neighbors about the study, local air quality and health concerns. Local public access station KLTV videotaped the event which will air on the local cable system in Cowlitz County on channel 29 or can be streamed from KLTV’s website Exit EPA Disclaimer on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, 3/23, 8pm
  • Friday, 3/26, 5pm
  • Sunday, 3/27, 10am
  • Tuesday, 3/29, 8:30pm
  • Thursday, 3/31, 5pm
  • Monday, 4/4, 5pm
  • Wednesday, 4/6, 11am
  • Saturday, 4/9, 8:30pm

On this page:

What is EPA’s School Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative?
As part of a new air toxics monitoring initiative, EPA, state and local air pollution control agencies will monitor the outdoor air around schools for pollutants known as toxic air pollutants, or air toxics. The Clean Air Act includes a list of 187 of these pollutants. Air toxics are of potential concern because exposure to high levels of these pollutants over many decades could result in long-term health effects.

EPA selected schools after evaluating a number of factors including results from an EPA computer modeling analysis, the mix of pollution sources near the schools, results from an analysis conducted for a recent newspaper series on air toxics at schools, and information from state and local air pollution agencies.

EPA, and our state, local and tribal air pollution control partners are:

How many schools will be monitored under this initiative?
The initial monitoring will take place at 63 schools in 22 states. If your school is not on the initial list of schools to be monitored, it does not mean it might not be monitored in the future. We will use what we learn from the initial round of monitoring to help us determine whether we may need to conduct additional monitoring.

How did EPA decide which schools to monitor?
EPA identified schools for monitoring based on the best data available to us about air pollution and pollution sources in the vicinity of the school, information about wind direction and speed, results of a computer modeling analysis, and information from state and local air agencies.

Which schools are EPA monitoring in Region 10?
EPA Region 10 -- in partnership with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Southwest Clean Air Agency, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Nez Perce Air Quality Program -- is monitoring at the following school locations. Please click on the school name for information regarding the monitoring efforts at each school, and on the name of the pollutant(s) for additional information.

Monitoring status at each school in the Pacific Northwest:
School NameCity StateMonitored PollutantsDate of Monitoring
Concord ElementarySeattleWashingtonCr+6, Metals in TSP, VOCs8/20 -10/16
St. Helen's ElementaryLongviewWashingtonCarbonyls, Metals in PM10, VOCs8/23-10/19
Harriet Tubman Leadership AcademyPortlandOregonCarbonyls, Metals in PM10, VOCs8/23-10/19
Toledo Elementary SchoolToledoOregonCarbonyls, Metals in PM10, VOCs8/29-10/22
Lapwai High School, Nez Perce Reservation schoolLapwaiIdahoCarbonyls, Metals in PM10, VOCs9/10-11/4

Why isn’t my school on the list of schools for monitoring?
EPA is going to start by monitoring at 63 priority schools in 22 states near large industrial facilitates and in some urban areas. If your school is not on the initial list of schools to be monitored, it does not mean it might not be monitored in the future. We will use what we learn from the initial round of monitoring to help us determine whether we may need to conduct additional monitoring

Why is EPA monitoring the air quality near schools?
The air children breathe impacts their health. People exposed to toxic air pollutants at sufficient concentrations and durations may have an increased chance of health problems including damage to the immune system, and neurological, developmental, respiratory and other health problems including cancer. In some cases, children may be more vulnerable to these health effects than adults because:
What can I do to improve air quality near schools?
EPA has a number of programs that are designed to help schools and communities take action to protect children’s health in one of the most important places—where children learn.

Indoor levels of air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Sources of poor indoor air quality in schools range from inadequate ventilation systems to fumes from pesticides and cleaning agents. More than half of the nation’s schools are implementing indoor air quality management programs, most of which are based on EPA’s Tools for Schools Program, which helps schools identify, resolve and prevent indoor air quality problems using low- and no-cost measures.

EPA launched the Clean School Bus USA Program in 2003 to address the condition of America’s aging school bus fleet and the health effects that result from exposure to diesel exhaust emitted by idling school buses. EPA has provided grants to many school districts to fund the replacement of old school buses with new buses that use cleaner fuels.

EPA’s Healthy School Environments is a “one-stop shop” for resources and information on topics related to environmental health and safety in schools.

EPA is also taking action to be sure that levels of lead, ozone, and fine particle pollution in the air protect children’s health.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Us
If you have questions about the School Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative in Region 10, contact Madonna Narvaez by email or call 206-553-2117 or contact Suzanne Skadowski by email or call 206-553-6689.

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