March 6, 2009
By Blake Morrison and Brad Heath, USA TODAY
State environmental officials in Louisiana and Pennsylvania have released results of short-term air monitoring for toxic chemicals near schools, and in both states officials say the tests showed no health threats.
Some residents, activists and other environmental experts question the findings — and worry that such declarations offer a false sense of security based on limited data.
In both states, regulators took samples for periods of a few days or a few hours at each school. Such short-term monitoring is not uncommon, but both Louisiana and Pennsylvania have monitored other sites for significantly longer periods — often months — before reaching conclusions. . .
"The states have what I think is a very obvious conflict of interest," says Al Armendariz, an environmental engineering professor who reviewed the Louisiana and Pennsylvania findings. Armendariz, a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, says state regulators "issue the permits for the facilities ... For them to turn around now and find that there's a public health impact, that would be embarrassing."
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