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Monitoring finds air toxics near Concord Elementary School below levels of concern

Release Date: 07/27/2011
Contact Information: Madonna Narvaez, EPA Air Toxics, 206-553-2117, narvaez.madonna@epa.gov Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-6689, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

Final air toxics monitoring report released today
(Seattle – July 27, 2011) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 today released the final report on analysis of air toxics monitoring data near Concord Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. The report is posted at: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair.

EPA found that concentrations of air toxics measured near the school are below the levels of concern associated with health problems from either short- or long-term exposures. Air toxics measured included hexavalent chromium, benzene, 1,3-butadiene and lead. 

Based on analysis of the monitoring results near Concord Elementary School, EPA will not continue air toxics monitoring at the school.  However, EPA remains concerned about stationary source and mobile source emissions of air toxics and continues to work to reduce those emissions across the country, through national rules and by providing information and assistance to local air authorities, including the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

The School Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative monitored outdoor air at 63 schools in 22 states to help EPA and state environmental agencies understand whether long-term exposures to air toxics pose health concerns for children and staff at the schools.

EPA selected Concord Elementary School for monitoring because it is located near several small metal plating facilities, roadways, and an airport, which are sources of air toxics emissions.   Computer models were used to determine which air toxics may be present at elevated levels in the outdoor air near the school.  These models showed that hexavalent chromium, benzene, 1, 3-butadiene, and lead could be present in the air around the school and prompted EPA to test to see if the levels present may be of concern.

EPA partnered with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to install and operate the air monitors. From Aug. 20, 2009 through Nov. 18, 2009, the monitors collected air samples near Concord Elementary School.  During the monitoring period, EPA evaluated the air toxics concentrations to see if there were health concerns with short-term exposures. After monitoring, EPA analyzed the results to see if there was a health concern from long-term exposures. In order to keep the community informed, EPA posted air sample results on the website throughout the monitoring period and sent regular notices to the school principal, staff and parents.

EPA also measured acrolein as part of this study. Results of a recent short-term laboratory study have raised questions about the consistency and reliability of monitoring results for acrolein. As a result, EPA will not use the acrolein data in evaluating the potential for health concerns from exposure to air toxics in outdoor air as part of the School Air Toxics Monitoring study. EPA is working to improve the monitoring method for this pollutant.

Other schools monitored in EPA Region 10 were: St. Helens Elementary School in Longview, Washington; Harriet Tubman School in Portland, Oregon; Toledo Elementary School in Toledo, Oregon; and Lapwai High School on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho. Information about monitoring at these schools can also be found at www.epa.gov/schoolair.

Find more information about Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s efforts to reduce air toxics in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties at http://www.pscleanair.org/airq/basics/airtoxics.aspx.