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EPA to measure air pollution levels surrounding at-risk schools (3/31)

March 31, 2009
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In an unprecedented effort to help protect children from toxic air pollution around schools, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced a list of schools that will undergo outdoor air monitoring.

“As a mother, I understand that concerned parents deserve this information as quickly as we can gather and analyze it,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a press statement. “EPA, state, and local officials are mobilizing to determine where elevated levels of toxics pose a threat, so that we can take swift action to protect our children at their schools.”

EPA, state and local agencies will work together to monitor air toxics around 62 schools in 22 states that are located near large industrial facilities or in urban areas. EPA identified these schools for monitoring based on information that raised questions about air quality. That information included the best data available to EPA scientists about air pollution in the vicinity of schools, results of a computer modeling analysis, results from a recent newspaper analysis, and information from state and local air agencies.

Depending on the availability of staff and equipment, monitoring at some schools on the list will begin almost immediately; other schools will begin monitoring over the next 60 to 90 days. State and local air agencies will install and operate the monitors, while EPA will purchase the monitors and pay for laboratory analysis.

State and local agencies will take periodic samples of the air around the schools for a 60-day period. EPA will analyze the results of the monitoring and share the information with the schools and the public. EPA will use the information gathered in this initiative to determine how best to move forward, which could require additional monitoring or enforcement action where appropriate.

EPA and states will work with school communities to ensure they understand the monitoring results. In addition to monitoring the outdoor air quality, EPA also will help interested schools improve the quality of their indoor air.

To learn more about this program and to view the list of schools that are part of the monitoring initiative, visit http://www.epa.gov/schoolair

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