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Update On Air Quality Concerns

Thanks to everyone who has gotten in touch with me over the past couple of days with updates they have received from various places. Here is an overview of what I have learned from these emails:

The PA Department of Environmental Protection had a press release yesterday in which they address the issue. Here are some of the highlights:
In a series of articles this week, the newspaper used data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 to analyze exposure to industrial pollution at 128,000 schools across the country. The stories cited five Pennsylvania schools where the newspaper’s test showed elevated levels of pollutants and identified 38 others that it calculated were located in high-pollution zones based on EPA data.
Hanger added that while DEP is committed to monitoring the levels through additional testing, its initial evaluation of the newspaper’s methodology found an instance where outdated Toxic Release Inventory data was used, consequently inflating the level of pollution estimated to be around two Philadelphia area schools. Hanger also concurred with the EPA’s assessment that the modeling tool used by USA Today was inappropriate for this kind of analysis. The Risk Screening Environmental Indicators model that was used is designed for point sources and fails to take into account mobile sources that can greatly elevate health risks.

The DEP has already taken air samples outside of some of the schools in PA that fared the worst in the study and plans to do so around several more. According to the press release, however, Phoenixville is not on the list. The full press release can be seen here.

Today, the Phoenixville Area School District posted a letter on their website from interim Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Terry Mancini. In it, the Superintendent notes that USA Today did not take actual air samples from outside any of the schools in Phoenixville but rather used the modeling data as described in my first post. Even still, the school district has requested that the PADEP perform a full air quality study and, should that fail, the district will hire an independant consultant to perform the study. It was indicated that the School Board is fully behind the study and will provide the financial resources needed should an indepedant study be required. A follow up letter will be sent out next week with any updated information the district receives.

For those of you interested in contacting the PA Department of Environmental Protection, click here for their website for reporting Environmental Complaints in our area.

More to come as I get it.


RMorin said…
Thanks to all for making this a priority!
Anonymous said…
It comes as no surprise to me that the Kindergarten Center air quality scored so low. If I remember correctly, the reason that PMYC football moved to the VFCC fields was because the field they used to play on was determined to be toxic or something. The smell alone around that area is enough to make you sick. To know that the areas children are breathing that in at school is very reassuring. Hopefully it helps build up their lungs.
Anonymous said…
We need to get PA DEP to do some actual air samples. The Philadelphia Inquier just finished their series on how the EPA has watered down statistics so I am not confident that things are worse than the USA Today study showed.

I don't think anyone should panic, but firm requests for DEP personnel to come out and sample the air around each of the Phoenixville Schools is appropiate and should be done.
Anonymous said…
Why hasn't The Phoenix or Philadelphia Inquirer picked up this story yet? Residents in this area have the right to know what's going on. Sending emails to our friends and neighbors is not the most effective mode of reporting the news.
Anonymous said…
To 12/12/08 12:42 PM

"the reason that PMYC football moved to the VFCC fields was because the field they used to play on was determined to be toxic or something".......this is so wrong you should be ashamed for spreading this garbage. PMYC moved because the outgrew the facility and because they lost their lease to use the property. Shame on you for spreading such uninformed trash.
Anonymous said…
Anyone heard from DEP yet? The form was very easy to fill out and it says that one is supposed to get a response. . .
RMorin said…
It is great that PASD is responding quickly to this, but why are they focusing only on the Kindergarten Center? The three other schools inside the Borough that were rated terribly need to have sampling done as well.
Anonymous said…
Another letter has been posted on the PASD website, with some good news - the DEP installed an outdoor air monitoring device at the PAKC last Friday.

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