Thursday, December 11, 2008
A recent report in the USA Today found poor air quality at a long list of schools nationwide including 6 in Pennsylvania. Two of them are in Allegheny County (Montessori Children’s School and Highlands High school) and one is in Beaver County (Midland Elementary-Middle School). The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it has set up air quality monitors at all of the schools. A spokesperson for the DEP says it is unclear how long those monitors will stay in place but they will be in place at least 6 months. While the newspaper did not contact the state, officials from the Midland school district spoke to the DEP after being contacted by reporters from the USA Today. The DEP responded by placing an air monitor at Midland Elementary-Middle School November 24th. So far the equipment has not found dangerous levels of any chemicals. The DEP feels its monitoring equipment will be more accurate and provide a longer view of the air quality rather than a “snapshot.” In its initial evaluation of the newspaper’s methodology, the DEP found an instance where outdated Toxic Release Inventory data was used, consequently inflating the level of pollution estimated to be around the schools. The Department also concurred with the EPA’s assessment that the modeling tool used by USA Today was inappropriate for this kind of analysis.