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Air toxics near St. Helen’s Elementary School are below levels of concern - EPA posts final air toxics monitoring report today

Release Date: 12/16/2010
Contact Information: Madonna Narvaez, EPA Air Toxics Team, 206-553-2117, narvaez.madonna@epa.gov Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-6689, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

(Seattle, Dec. 16, 2010) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 announced today that the final report based on the school air toxics monitoring data from St. Helen’s Elementary School in Longview, Washington, has been posted on the Agency’s website.

EPA found air toxics concentrations are below the levels of concern associated with health problems from short-term or long-term exposures to acetaldehyde, manganese, and nickel or other toxic metals. While the results confirm some impact from a nearby source, the monitored results are not as high as was suggested by the modeling data.  Because no concentrations of concern were found, monitoring has been discontinued at the school.

The report is posted on EPA’s Website at: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair.

The Schools Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative, which monitored outdoor air at 63 schools in 22 states, is 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.

St. Helen's Elementary School was selected to evaluate the impact of industry on a school because of its proximity to large industrial sources, including a pulp and paper mill.  This choice was also based on input from the Southwest Clean Air Agency (SWCAA) and EPA after a review of modeling data and past monitoring results.

From August 23, 2009 through November 15, 2009, a monitor collected air samples near the St. Helen’s Elementary School. Acetaldehyde, manganese, and nickel were the key pollutants of interest. During the monitoring period, EPA evaluated the concentrations to see if there was an issue with short-term exposures to manganese and other air toxics. Once the monitoring was complete, EPA analyzed the results to see if there was a concern from long-term exposures. In order to keep the community informed, EPA posted individual air sample results on the website throughout the monitoring period.

A public meeting on the results of the air monitoring will be held at the St. Helen’s Elementary school early next year. Other schools monitored in EPA Region 10 were: Concord Elementary in Seattle, Washington; Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy in Portland, Oregon; Toledo Elementary School in Toledo, Oregon; Lapwai High School on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho. Final reports for these schools are not completed yet.