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EPA Region 5 releases first air monitoring data from Spain Elementary in Detroit

Release Date: 10/01/2009
Contact Information: Karen Thompson, 312-353-8547,

For Immediate Release
No. 09-OPA188

(Chicago - Oct. 1, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 announced today the first set of air toxics monitoring data from Spain Elementary School in Detroit, Mich., has been posted on the agency's Web site.

The Schools Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative, which is monitoring 63 schools in 22 states, is designed to help EPA and state environmental agencies understand whether long-term exposure to toxics in the outdoor air poses health concerns for children and staff at the schools, as well as residents in the surrounding community.

The data is posted at

Based on the best available information about emissions and sources of pollution in the area. the pollutants most likely to be of concern at Spain Elementary School are acrolein, benzene and 1-3 butadiene which are emitted by mobile sources like cars and trucks and industrial processes.

Region 5 is currently monitoring air at 15 schools in the region that were selected as part of the initiative. The first results show that levels of the key hazardous air pollutants benzene and 1-3 butadiene at Spain Elementary are well below levels of short-term concern.

EPA scientists warn against drawing conclusions at this point as the study is designed to determine whether long-term, not short-term, exposure poses health concerns for school children and staff. Once monitoring is complete, the full set of results from all of the schools will be analyzed to evaluate the potential for health concerns related to long-term exposure to these pollutants. EPA will post this analysis to the Web once it is complete.

The results posted today also include preliminary data on acrolein, a widespread pollutant that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. EPA anticipates that long-term levels of acrolein are likely to be elevated at most schools. Elevated acrolein is not limited to schools. Preliminary results from the 40 schools that are monitoring for acrolein are similar to levels from air toxics monitors in other areas of the country.

EPA has been regulating emissions of acrolein from industrial facilities and vehicles since 1990. The agency already has seen reductions in acrolein emissions and expects to see more reductions in the future, as rules such as the mobile source air toxics and heavy duty highway vehicle rules are fully phased in.

Outdoor air at each of the schools will be monitored for 60 days, and air-quality monitors will take a minimum of 10 daily samples during the sampling period. EPA will use the information gathered in the initiative to help determine next steps, which could include additional monitoring or enforcement action where appropriate.

Other schools being monitored in EPA Region 5 are Saint Josaphat School, Chicago; Pittsboro Elementary School, Pittsboro, Ind.; Lincoln Elementary School, Warsaw, Ind.; Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, East Chicago, Ind.; Jefferson Elementary School, Gary, Ind.; Lincoln Park Elementary School, Muskegon, Mich.; Whitwell Elementary School, Ironton, Mich.; Minnesota International Middle Charter School, Minneapolis, Minn.; La Croft Elementary School, East Liverpool, Ohio; Elm Street Elementary School, Wauseon, Ohio; Life Skills of Trumbull County and the Academy of Arts and Humanities, Warren, Ohio; The Ohio Valley Educational Service Center and Warren Elementary School, Marietta, Ohio.

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