EPA to Test Schools' Air for Toxic Chemicals
March 2, 2009 - 5:57 PMThe Environmental Protection Agency will soon begin testing the air around schools for toxic contaminants.
The $2.25 million program announced Monday will be the first to specifically target air contamination near schools. The EPA already operates a nationwide monitoring network that collects information on a variety of air pollutants.
The school monitors will focus on toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer, respiratory and neurological problems - especially in children, who are more susceptible than adults because they are still growing.
Initially, states and local governments will monitor the air at 50 to 100 schools located near large industrial facilities or in cities where a variety of sources can lead to high concentrations of pollution.
The agency expects the monitoring to begin in 30 days.
"Questions have been raised about air quality around some U.S. schools, and those questions merit investigation," said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.
But it is unclear what the agency can do about it if it finds that some pollutants are posing risks on school grounds. There are no federal standards for the 188 chemicals classified as air toxics. It can also be difficult to trace a pollution problem back to a specific source.
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