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EPA Releases Final Report on Air Toxics Near two Schools in Follansbee, West Virginia

Release Date: 12/23/2010
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543. smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 23, 2010) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made available today its final report on monitoring for air toxics near the Follansbee Middle School and Jefferson Primary School in Follansbee, W. Va. The report, posted on the agency’s website at http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html, concludes that outdoor levels of manganese near the schools were below levels that would raise health concerns. However, the agency will conduct more monitoring next spring for pollutants commonly associated with coke oven plants, since one is operating in the vicinity of the schools.

EPA’s monitoring of outdoor air found several pollutants common in coke oven emissions, including benzene, arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene. The additional monitoring will help EPA gain a better understanding of the levels of pollutants in the air and whether there are potential health concerns associated with the mixture of pollutants. The need for follow-up air monitoring is also based on the knowledge that one of the main sources of air toxics in the area was not operating at normal production levels during the original monitoring. The facility is now operating at normal production.

As part of EPA’s Schools Air Toxics Monitoring initiative, outdoor air was monitored at 63 schools in 22 states. The study was designed to help EPA and state environmental agencies understand whether long-term exposure to air toxics poses health concerns for children and staff at the schools.

EPA selected the Follansbee schools because of their proximity to air toxics sources, and based on computer models that indicated these toxics may be present at elevated levels in the outdoor air. To see a listing of all of the schools monitored in this initiative: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html.