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|DEQ says air okay near A.L. Smith|
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality conducted a study of air toxics around a number of schools in the state, including Sterlington's A.L. Smith Elementary, to determine whether there are toxic hot spots near the schools.
DEQ's study was spurred by a recent USA Today report, which listed schools "in the first percentile of all schools for air toxics."
Being listed in the first percentile means the "air quality around the schools was potentially the worst in the nation," according to the USA Today article.
Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber said DEQ delivered a report to him several weeks ago. He is pleased with the results.
"We just wanted to make sure our schools were safe and the air was safe, so we are pleased DEQ did this additional study," Webber said. "We're pleased and satisfied with the results."
"We will continue to ask for studies from time to time to assure the air quality around our schools is good and our students are safe," Webber said.
According to DEQ, USA Today's article indicated that, "based on a screening model known as Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators, or RSEI, these schools were ranked high on potential exposure to air toxics."
"RSEI cannot say definitively whether anyone is at risk, but identifies places where industrial pollution might pose problems," according to DEQ.
DEQ says it has a network of 21 monitors capable of monitoring for air toxics. The monitors are set up throughout the state, with 11 in the most industrialized part of the state.
"Based on the monitoring data from these sites, along with the usual permitting and inspection phases of environmental regulation, DEQ has not seen any signs of toxic hot spots near schools or otherwise," according to DEQ. "If a problem were ever to develop, DEQ has tools such as its Mobile Air Monitoring Laboratory and other air sampling equipment to quickly address any possible situation."
In addition to air sampling and data reviews, air quality modeling was studied for A.L. Smith Elementary.
"The conclusion, based on the analyses performed, is the air at the schools studied meets all known health and safety standards," according to DEQ. "Although the RSEI model ranks the potential for harmful exposure to air toxics at some Louisiana schools to be high, actual exposure to air toxics at the schools in this study has been shown to be low and well within healthy limits by the use of scientifically accepted sampling and analysis method."
To see the complete air toxics study, as well as other air toxic-related information, go to www.deq.louisiana.gov.