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EPA Study of Toxic Air Pollution near Elizabeth, NJ Middle School Finds Air Pollutants Below Levels of Concern

Release Date: 10/14/2011
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that a seven-month study of toxic air pollution outside the Mabel Holmes Middle School in Elizabeth, New Jersey did not find pollution levels of concern. From August 2009 to January 2010, EPA monitored the air for acetaldehyde, benzene, nickel and other metals, which are toxic air pollutants commonly associated with industrial facilities, major roadways and other sources. The air monitoring at the 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 the Mabel Holmes Middle School for monitoring based on its proximity to industrial sites, a major airport and a port. Computer models were used to determine which air pollutants might be present at elevated levels in the outdoor air near the school. EPA found that the levels of acetaldehyde, benzene, nickel and other metals were below levels of concern and not as high as suggested by the modeling information available prior to monitoring.

Based on the analysis, EPA has stopped monitoring at this school. EPA continues its work to reduce levels of toxic air pollutants by regulating air pollution from industrial facilities. 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 Mabel Holmes Middle School, the Paulsboro High School in Paulsboro, New Jersey was included in the monitoring study. The final monitoring report for the Paulsboro High School was issued in June 2011. 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 Mabel Holmes Middle School is now posted on the Agency’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html.

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