New Kind of School Testing: How Toxic Is the Air?

Air Date: 03/31/2009
Source:
NBC Nightly News
Creator:
Brian Williams/Rehema Ellis
Air/Publish Date:
03/31/2009
Event Date:
03/31/2009
Resource Type:
News Report
Copyright:
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
Copyright Date:
2009
Clip Length:
00:02:06

In April of 2009, the EPA begins monitoring the air around 62 public schools in 22 states, testing for toxic chemicals and contaminants produced by nearby refineries and industries.

New Kind of School Testing: How Toxic Is the Air?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (London):

Turning to some other news, quite a bit of news about children's health tonight, including this: an announcement from the EPA today on the air quality around America's public schools. This is a big story. Health officials are placing air monitors outside dozens of schools to determine how vulnerable our kids are to what could be toxic air. Our report tonight from NBC's Rehema Ellis.

REHEMA ELLIS reporting:

The fear that toxic chemicals from smokestacks, factories and plants might be polluting the air around schools is a parent's nightmare.

Unidentified Children: (In unison) One, two, three...

ELLIS: A concern for parents in Dallas in today.

Ms. NICOLE JACKSON (Parent): So if they breathing in bad air, I would want to know.

ELLIS: It's why the government is taking action now. The EPA will monitor the air near 62 schools in 22 states for evidence of toxic chemicals. Most are near large industrial facilities or urban areas. The testing is expected to start immediately at some schools and be phased in over the next three months at a cost of more than $2 million.

Here in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the air around this middle school will be monitored because it's within 15 miles of two refineries and three chemical plants, causing concern not only for parents, but the city as well.

Mr. DON GONCALVES (Elizabeth School District): We believe it's about the whole community. Them monitoring a school area, in fact, is going to give them data for the community as to what type of contaminants exist.

ELLIS: The government wants to determine the level of toxins such as benzene, manganese and chromium because of the potential risk they pose to children, whose bodies are still developing. Risks include organ damage, cancer or impaired brain development.

Ms. LISA JACKSON (EPA Administrator): As soon as we can begin to get information and data back to people, I think that will actually start to put people's minds at ease and give them the power to advocate for their children if we do find things that are wrong.

ELLIS: The EPA hopes to have some answers just as schools are letting out for the summer. Rehema Ellis, NBC News, Elizabeth, New Jersey.

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