By Gitte Laasby, Gary Post-Tribune staff writer
August 12, 2009 -- GARY -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will start monitoring the air around Jefferson Elementary School in Gary for toxics starting Aug. 23.
The move is an effort to understand whether toxic air pollution poses health concerns to school children.
In Gary, the EPA will keep an eye on metal particles, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can can cause cancer if breathed over long periods.
"Once each sample has been analyzed and quality assured, it will be posted on the EPA's Web site," EPA said in a statement Tuesday. "Each sample will be posted as it becomes available."
Samples will be taken over 60 days and be analyzed for air toxics of potential concern. They will be used to assess the potential for long-term health impacts and to evaluate actions that might be needed to reduce the level of pollution. EPA said it will also use the results to "take action as needed to ensure that nearby industries are in compliance with Clean Air regulations."
A newspaper analysis in December concluded there are high levels of manganese in the air around Jefferson Elementary, which mainly comes from ArcelorMittal steel mills in East Chicago.
In addition to Jefferson Elementary on Jackson Street, Abraham Lincoln Elementary on East 135th Street in East Chicago is also among 62 schools in 22 states that will be monitored for toxics.
The schools were selected based on results from EPA's National Air Toxics Assessment and a newspaper report about toxic air pollution near schools.
Once available, the monitoring data can be accessed by choosing Jefferson Elementary from this list: www.epa.gov /schoolair/schools.html
smf: three Southern California schools are on the project list:
- Santa Anita Christian Academy in El Monte
- Felton Elementary School in Lennox USD
- & Soto Street Elementary School in LAUSD
Pollutants to be measured have been selected based on emission sources in the vicinity of each school.
Metals in TSP: Toxic metals contained in total suspended particulate matter (e.g. lead, nickel, and manganese).
PAH: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (e.g., naphthalene and benzo(a)pyrene).
VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds (e.g., benzene, vinyl chloride).