2009 Archives

States' tests for toxic air near schools called into doubt


The following is from the March 5, 2009, edition of USA Today. Professor Al Armendariz of the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering in SMU's Lyle School of Engineering provided expertise for this story.

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."

Read the full story.

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