EPA finds air pollution at Elizabeth middle school less than previously believed

TRENTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a monitoring report today that cleared the air surrounding Mabel Holmes Middle School in Elizabeth.

Situated in close proximity to industrial worksites, Newark International Airport, and Port Newark, the school’s outside air was found to be less polluted – “below levels of concern” – than a computer model previously predicted.

“EPA found that the levels of acetaldehyde, benzene, nickel and other metals were below levels of concern and not as high as suggested by the modeling information available prior to monitoring,” according to a press release.

Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club state director, said, “We believe that EPA test results do not adequately address the air pollution problems in Elizabeth. The EPA standards are lower then New Jersey’s for cancer risk.” He said EPA’s standard is 1-in-10,000 while New Jersey’s standard is 1-in-1 million, a hundred times less stringent. “Also, we have a rainier than normal period which helps to clean our air so the test would have fewer pollutants than during drier periods. This year, clean air data showed a drop in pollution in Union/Essex Counties compared to previous years because of the wet weather. Air pollution is a threat to the public health and we need to do more to protect our children.” 

Nevertheless, the findings will end the EPA’s monitoring at this school. The EPA also engaged in an eight-month study at Paulsboro High School in Gloucester County based on the area’s industrial facilities such as oil refineries and chemical manufacturers. The EPA report on Paulsboro, issued in June, also did not find levels of air quality concern.

The air monitoring at the two sites was part of a national monitoring program preformed at 63 schools in 22 states. The final report from the EPA can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html. EPA finds air pollution at Elizabeth middle school less than previously believed