Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools
Cabell County Career Technology Center - Huntington, WV
Results and Analysis of EPA’s monitoring
EPA selected this school for monitoring because it is located near two metals processing facilities (a steel manufacturer and a nickel alloys manufacturer) that are sources of air toxics emissions. This school was selected in consultation with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and based on computer models which were used to determine which air toxics may be present at elevated levels in the outdoor air near the school. These models showed that nickel could be present in and air around the school and prompted EPA to test to see if the levels present may be of concern.
|Primary Findings||Levels of nickel in the air at the school are below levels of concern for short-term and long-term exposure.|
|Key Pollutants Monitored||Nickel. Inhalation may affect the respiratory and the immunological systems if people are exposed to high levels.|
|Next Steps||EPA will not extend air toxics monitoring at Cabell County Career Technology Center at this time because levels of nickel in the air at the school are below levels of concern for long-term exposure to air toxics.
EPA remains concerned about emissions from sources of air toxics and continues to work to reduce those emissions across the country, through national rules and by providing information and suggestions to assist with reductions in local areas.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) will continue to oversee both industrial facilities through their Title V air permit program.
Summary of Study Approach and Findings
- A monitor collected air samples from August 17, 2009 through October 10, 2009 at the Cabell County Career Technology Center in Huntington, West Virginia. Nickel was the key pollutant of interest.
- We posted individual air sample results on this website throughout the monitoring period to keep your community informed during the monitoring period.
- During the monitoring period, we evaluated the monitored concentrations to see if there was a concern from short-term exposures (e.g., several weeks).
- When the monitoring was complete, we analyzed the results to see if there was a concern from long-term exposures (over a lifetime).
- Also, when the monitoring was complete, we evaluated all the air samples from the on-site monitor. We also evaluated information on wind speed and wind direction from a weather monitor at the school, along with historical weather information and information about a nearby source of nickel emissions.
- Our analysis found that levels of nickel in the air at the school are below levels of concern for long-term exposure.
- The analysis indicates that nickel concentrations in the air near the school are influenced by two nearby metals processing facilities.
- The concentrations of nickel measured at the school are lower than those suggested by the information that helped identify this school for monitoring.
- The process to identify schools for monitoring relied on emissions estimates and other information. Ambient air monitoring at the school allowed measurement of what was actually in the air.
- The most recently available nickel emissions estimates for the nearby steel manufacturing facility from the 2008 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is much lower whereas the nickel alloy manufacturing facility emissions data is slightly higher than the estimates used to identify this school for monitoring.
- Because the analysis shows monitored concentrations of nickel levels to be below levels of concern, EPA will not extend air toxics monitoring at Cabell County Career Technology Center.
- Click here for additional information
How We Analyzed the Information We Collected at this School
The analysis considered whether the information collected at the school might raise concerns for the health of children or adults at the school. We looked at the following types of information:
- Measured nickel concentrations and information on nickel
- Measured wind direction and wind speed at the school
- Information about nearby sources of nickel emissions
Analysis of Measured Nickel Concentrations:
1. Calculate the average: We calculated the average of the nickel measurements (shown by the black diamond in the graph below). We compared this average to the long-term comparison level (thick line on the graph below).
Result: The average nickel level for the samples collected was not above the long-term comparison level. The health concern is low.
2. Calculate a range: To account for varying air concentrations of nickel, we calculated a range around the average. We did this by estimating high and low values that the longer-term concentrations might reach using common statistical tools. We compared the highest point in the range (called the “upper bound”) to the long-term comparison level.
Result: The high end of the range is lower than the comparison level. The health concern is low.
Analysis of Measured Wind Direction and Wind Speed at the School
We took measurements of wind direction and speed every day during the sample period. We took special note of the wind speed and direction on the days we took measurements of nickel.
|What we looked at||What we found|
|We looked at whether the wind data taken on the days we took measurements of nickel are similar or different from the wind patterns during the entire sampling period.||We found the wind patterns taken on the days we took measurements of nickel are somewhat similar to those observed during the entire sampling period.|
|We looked at whether the wind pattern during the sampling period is reflective of regional wind pattern over the long term.||Although we lack long-term wind data at the monitoring site, the wind pattern at the NWS site during the sampling period is generally similar to the historical long-term wind flow pattern at that location. This suggests that, on a regional scale, the 2-month sampling period may be representative of year-round wind patterns.|
Analysis of Information on Nearby Source of Nickel Emissions
|What we looked at||What we found|
|Whether we could determine if the sources were operating as usual during the sampling period||The steel manufacturing facility was operating at 73% of their normal capacity during the sampling period. The nickel alloy manufacturing facility was operating at 79% of their normal capacity during the sampling period.|
|The concentrations of nickel measured at the school are lower than those suggested by the information that helped identify this school for monitoring.|
|The nearby sources of nickel have Title V operating permits issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection that includes operating requirements.|
Technical Report for School: Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools: Cabell County Career Technology Center (Huntington, West Virginia) (PDF) (25pp, 203k). The technical report is geared toward risk assessors, risk managers, and other regulatory agencies.