WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed the first phase of an air-quality testing program regarding 63 schools in 22 states and at two tribal schools. The testing, which monitored air quality outside of the schools, was done as part of an unprecedented school air-monitoring initiative announced last year to protect children from toxic air pollution around schools. EPA experts will now analyze the data to understand whether air quality at these schools poses long-term health concerns for children.
Since March 2009, the EPA has monitored air toxics around the schools near large industrial facilities and in urban areas, and has posted preliminary data to its website throughout the project. To date, the agency has posted more than 22,500 sampling results for the schools.
The agency has provided the information to schools, communities, and state and federal regulators to help determine if there were any immediate health concerns, and the agency has now begun work on the next step in the initiative: analyzing the data to determine potential long-term health risks to school children and staff. So far, the EPA has released two of those analyses, for Pittsboro Elementary School in Pittsboro, Ind., and Minnesota International Middle Charter School in Minneapolis. At both schools, levels of the key pollutants monitored were below levels of both short- and long-term concern.
The remaining health analyses will be issued throughout the summer and fall, as the EPA completes analyses for each school. Results will be used to determine next steps, which could include additional monitoring at a school or the surrounding community, or enforcement actions where appropriate.
EPA experts analyzing the [cut? Monitoring] data also examine information on wind direction and wind speed from meteorological stations located at the schools, data on historical wind and weather patterns in the area, information about sources of air toxics in the vicinity of each school and information about the pollutants and health effects associated with long-term exposure.
For more information, visit epa.gov/schoolair.