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Air toxics near Harriet Tubman School are below levels of concern

Release Date: 4/25/2011
Contact Information: Madonna Narvaez, EPA Air Toxics Team, 206-553-2117,, Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-6689,

(Seattle – April 25, 2011) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final report on analysis of air toxics monitoring data near Harriet Tubman School in Portland, Oregon. EPA and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will host a public meeting on the air monitoring report at Harriet Tubman School on Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

EPA found that concentrations of the majority of air toxics measured near the school are below the levels of concern associated with health problems from either short- or long-term exposures. Air toxics measured included acetaldehyde, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, manganese and nickel. The report is posted at:

Monitoring results indicated that vehicle emissions are contributing to the pollutants detected. EPA remains concerned about emissions from sources of air toxics and continues working to reduce those emissions across the country, through national rules and by providing information and suggestions to assist with reductions in local areas.

EPA’s analysis also found that concentrations of a toxic metal, cadmium, indicate a potential level of concern for long-term continuous exposure. The elevated cadmium levels, while not indicating a level of significant concern for health effects at the Harriet Tubman School, are a potential concern. This spring EPA and DEQ will conduct additional monitoring for cadmium in this area to better understand the elevated levels, identify the source(s) and characterize any potential exposure to the community.

The School Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative sampled outdoor air at 63 schools in 22 states to help EPA and state environmental agencies understand levels of air toxics near schools and if long-term exposures to air toxics pose health concerns for children and staff at the schools.

Harriet Tubman School was selected to evaluate the impact of an urban mix of industrial sources as well as its proximity to an interstate highway and other roadways sources. Information that EPA and the DEQ reviewed, such as computer models, indicated that manganese and nickel could be present in the air near the school. Mobile source pollutants, such as acetaldehyde, benzene, and 1,3-butadiene, were also monitored as the school is located in an area with an interstate highway and other roadway sources.

From August 23, 2009 through November 13, 2009, a monitor collected air samples near the Harriet Tubman School. During the monitoring period, EPA evaluated the concentrations to see if there were any concerns for short-term exposures to the air toxics measured. After monitoring, EPA analyzed the results to see if there was any concern from long-term exposures. To keep the community informed, EPA posted its air sample results on the website throughout the monitoring period.

Other schools monitored in EPA Region 10 were: Concord Elementary in Seattle, Washington; St. Helens Elementary School in Longview, Washington; Toledo Elementary School in Toledo, Oregon; Lapwai High School on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho. Information about monitoring at these schools can be found at

For information about the April 27, 2011 public meeting at Harriet Tubman School, go to or contact Marcia Danab, DEQ, 503-229-6488.