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EPA Issues Final Report on Toxic Air Pollution Near Paulsboro High School, N.J.; Finds Pollutants Below Levels of Concern

Release Date: 06/21/2011
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that an eight-month study of toxic air pollution outside Paulsboro High School in Paulsboro, New Jersey did not find levels of concern. From August 2009 to February 2010, EPA monitored the air for acetaldehyde, benzene, nickel and other metals, which are toxic air pollutants commonly associated with industrial facilities such as oil refineries and chemical manufacturing. The air monitoring at Paulsboro High School was part of a national monitoring program to help EPA and state environmental agencies and the public understand whether long-term exposure to toxics in the outdoor air poses health concerns for children and staff at schools. Monitoring was done at 63 schools in 22 states. To keep the community informed, EPA posted air sampling results on its website throughout the monitoring period.

EPA selected Paulsboro High School for monitoring based on information indicating the potential for elevated levels of acetaldehyde, benzene, and nickel in the air outside the school due, at least in part, to the presence of nearby industrial sites. Computer models were used to determine which air toxics might be present at elevated levels in the outdoor air near the school. EPA found that the levels of acetaldehyde, benzene, and nickel were below levels of concern and not as high as suggested by the emissions and modeling information available prior to monitoring.

Based on the analysis, EPA will not continue air toxics monitoring at this school. EPA continues its work to reduce levels of toxic air pollutants by regulating air pollution from industrial facilities and oil refineries, and recently proposed new standards for toxic air pollutants from power plants and other major sources. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is also engaged in a range of programs to reduce air toxics throughout the state.

In addition to Paulsboro High School, the Mabel Holmes Middle School in Elizabeth, N.J. was included in the monitoring study. The final monitoring report for the Mabel Homes Middle School is expected this summer. The sampling results for all 63 schools participating in the study are being posted on the Agency’s website as they become available.

The final report on air toxics monitoring at Paulsboro High School is now posted on the Agency’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html.

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