- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The EPA on Monday, June 22, posted the first preliminary sets of air toxics monitoring data from two Tennessee schools as the agency and states continue their outdoor air monitoring effort at 62 total schools in 22 states. The agency identified manganese, a metal commonly used in manufacturing, as the pollutant most likely to be of concern at the two schools, based on the best available information about emissions and sources of pollution in the area.
The initiative, which the agency characterizes as simply "fact-finding," has some facility operators concerned about the potential for unfair negative public relations fallout, e.g. parents of students at those schools could misinterpret the dangers caused by local industry.
The preliminary results show that levels of the metal manganese are well below levels of short-term concern. However, EPA scientists warned against drawing conclusions at this point as the study is designed to determine whether long-term, not short-term, exposure poses health risks to school children and staff.
The EPA said in a related press release that it is working with Tennessee state officials to continue monitoring the outdoor air at Ashland City Elementary School in Ashland City and Lakeview Elementary School in New Johnsonville. The two Tennessee schools were the first to begin monitoring because EPA monitors were readily available in the area, according to the release.
Once monitoring is complete at the two Tennessee schools, the full set of results will be analyzed to evaluate the potential for health concerns related to long-term manganese exposure. This analysis will be released approximately six weeks after monitoring at the two schools is complete. The agency and states will follow a similar schedule and process for each of the additional 60 schools on the list as their data becomes available later this summer and fall.
Monitors for the remaining schools across the country have been purchased and are being calibrated and deployed at schools that federal and state regulators have identified as priorities. Monitoring will be phased in at those schools over the summer, and preliminary data will be posted online as it becomes available.