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EPA and States Complete First Phase of Unprecedented School Air Monitoring Initiative/Air toxics samples from all 65 schools in 22 states available online

Release Date: 06/10/2010
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it had completed air quality testing outside 63 schools in 22 states and at two tribal schools. The testing was done as part of an unprecedented school air monitoring initiative announced by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson last year to protect children from toxic air pollution around schools. EPA experts will now analyze the data to understand whether air quality at these schools poses long-term health concerns for children.

“As a parent myself, I want to know that when I’m sending my children off to school the air they breathe will be safe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Today, for the first time, we have the information we need to make sure our children are breathing clean air in areas that have worried parents in the past. As we analyze these air quality samples, EPA will continue to work quickly to protect all Americans - not just where they live and work - but also where they learn and play.”

Since EPA announced this unprecedented project in March 2009, the agency has worked with state and local air quality agencies to monitor air toxics around the schools near large industrial facilities and in urban areas.

The agency has posted preliminary data to its Web site throughout the project to make public the levels of the 62 air toxics the monitors are checking. To date, the agency has posted more than 22,500 sampling results for the schools.

EPA has consistently provided information to schools, communities, and state and federal regulators to help determine if there were any immediate health concerns, and the agency has now begun work on the next step in the initiative: analyzing the data to determine potential long-term health risks to school children and staff. EPA released two of those analyses today: for Pittsboro Elementary School in Pittsboro, Ind. and Minnesota International Middle Charter School in Minneapolis. At both schools, levels of the key pollutants monitored were below levels of both short- and long-term concern. EPA previously released analyses for two schools in Tennessee.

The remaining health analyses will be issued throughout the summer and fall, as EPA completes analyses for each school. EPA will use the results to determine next steps, which could include additional monitoring at a school or the surrounding community, or enforcement actions where appropriate.

EPA experts analyzing the monitoring data also examine information on wind direction and wind speed from meteorological stations located at the schools, data on historical wind and weather patterns in the area, information about sources of air toxics in the vicinity of each school and information about the pollutants and health effects associated with long-term exposure.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair