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More Air Sampling Data from Hurricane Katrina Released

Release Date: 12/16/2005
Contact Information:


Contact: Eryn Witcher, 202-564-4355 / witcher.eryn@epa.gov

(12/16/05) EPA has posted additional air quality monitoring data for hurricane impacted areas in Louisiana (LA) and Mississippi (MS). Measurements for most pollutants reported were below EPA's health based screening levels for chemicals including arsenic and lead, asbestos; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); and volatile organic compounds. However, monitoring at certain sites showed elevated levels of acrolein (MS: Stennis Space Center, on Maple Street in Gulfport, Hospital Road in Pascagoula, LA: West Temple Place in Jefferson Parish), and formaldehyde (MS: Hospital Road in Pascagoula).

Acrolein can enter the air when organic matter such as trees and other plants are burned and when fuels such as gasoline and oil are burned. At the concentrations measured, temporary irritation of the eyes, nose and throat could have resulted.

Formaldehyde is formed during combustion in forest fires; wood stoves, cigarette smoke, power plants, and in vehicle exhaust. The largest sources of directly emitted formaldehyde are from combustion of fuels from mobile sources and process emissions from oil refineries. While such exposures would not be
acceptable on a regular basis extended over weeks at a time, isolated exposures to such concentrations are not believed to be associated with long-term health problems.

For more detailed information on EPA's air sampling results, visit the EPA web site at: http://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/index.html