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EPA region 5 now monitoring for air toxics at 15 schools

Release Date: 09/09/2009
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, 312-353-6218, cannon.phillippa@epa.gov William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, omohundro.william@epa.gov

For Immediate Release
No. 09-OPA166

Releases first sets of data from three schools

(Chicago, Ill. - Sept. 9, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 announced today that it is now monitoring at all 15 schools in the region that were selected as part of EPA's national Schools Air Toxics Initiative.

The initiative, which is monitoring 63 schools in 22 states, is designed to help EPA and the states determine whether long-term exposure to toxics in the outdoor air poses health concerns for children and staff at the schools.

EPA Region 5 also announced that first sets of air toxics monitoring data from three schools in the region have been posted on the agency's Web site. The schools are: Lincoln Park Elementary School, Muskegon, Mich.; Minnesota International Middle Charter School, Minneapolis, Minn.; and Whitwell Elementary School, Ironton, Ohio. The data is posted at http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html.

The key pollutants of concern from each school are:

  • Lincoln Park Elementary School: Hexavalent chromium, or chrome 6, a metal commonly used in manufacturing, is the pollutant most likely to be of concern based on the best available information about emissions and sources of pollution in the area.
  • Minnesota International Middle Charter School: Hexavalent chromium; cobalt, an element used in industrial processes; and nickel, a metal released in combustion processes and used in industrial processes, are the pollutants most likely to be of concern based on the best available information about emissions and sources of pollution in the area.
  • Whitwell Elementary School: Manganese, a metal commonly used in manufacturing; benzene, a chemical emitted by mobile sources and used in industrial processes; and benzo(a)pyrene, a chemical formed during the incomplete combustion of coal, are the pollutants most likely to be of concern based on the best available information about emissions and sources of pollution in the area.

The first results show that levels of the key hazardous air pollutants at these three schools are well below levels of short-term concern. EPA scientists warn against drawing conclusions at this point as the study is designed to determine whether long-term, not short-term, exposure poses health risks to school children and staff. Once monitoring is complete, the full set of results from all of the schools will be analyzed to evaluate the potential for health concerns related to long-term exposure to these pollutants. EPA will post this analysis to the Web once it is complete.

Outdoor air at each of the schools will be monitored for 60 days, and air quality monitors will take a minimum of 10 daily samples during the sampling period. EPA will use the information gathered in the initiative to help determine next steps, which could include additional monitoring or enforcement action where appropriate.

Other schools being monitored in EPA Region 5 are Saint Josaphat School, Chicago; Pittsboro Elementary School, Pittsboro, Ind.; Lincoln Elementary School, Warsaw, Ind.; Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, East Chicago, Ind.; Jefferson Elementary School, Gary, Ind.; Spain Elementary School, Detroit, Mich.; La Croft Elementary School, East Liverpool, Ohio; Elm Street Elementary School, Wauseon, Ohio; Life Skills of Trumbull County and the Academy of Arts and Humanities, Warren, Ohio; The Ohio Valley Educational Service Center and Warren Elementary School, Marietta, Ohio.
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