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Air Sampling Data Collected by EPA Mobile Labs Released

Release Date: 9/17/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     The Environmental Protection Agency used a specially equipped bus, known as TAGA, to take air samples from multiple locations in the New Orleans on Sept. 12-13. The results indicated that chemical concentrations in most areas were below the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry health standards.

     The sampling was part of EPA's and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality combined efforts to conduct environmental assessment of areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The samples were analyzed for volatile priority pollutants such as benzene, toluene and xylene, which are commonly found in gasoline, as well as other industrial solvents.

     The low level of volatile pollutants is not surprising as contaminants may be bound to the sediment. Monitoring data directly around the Murphy Oil spill revealed some slightly elevated levels of benzene and toluene that are associated with an oil leak reported at the facility. Long-term exposure of a year or more would be required for health effects to be of concern at the levels measured.    

     EPA used two of its Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer buses to gather the samples. The TAGA is a self-contained mobile laboratory capable of continuous, real-time sampling and analysis.

     It can detect chemicals in the low parts per billion levels of outdoor air or emissions from various environmental sources. TAGA monitoring results are only used for screening and represent the status of the air at the time of sampling. These screening data were evaluated against the ATSDR air short-term health standards in order to provide an initial assessment of air quality.

     These initial results represent the beginning of extensive sampling efforts and do not represent all air conditions throughout the area.  As this is a dynamic situation, general conclusions should not be made regarding air safety based on results from this snapshot of data.  For sampling information go to:

     For more information about response efforts, visit our websites at and