ASHLAND — The air around three Eastern Kentucky schools will be monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of a national program in 22 states.
Monitoring equipment has been set up at three elementary schools in Ashland, where the EPA will monitor the air for toxic chemicals for 60 days.
The schools, Charles Russell, Crabbe and Hatcher elementaries, are the only schools in Kentucky that will be tested, according to a list on the EPA's Web site.
The Ashland Daily Independent reports that the Kentucky Division of Air Quality won't give a schedule of the monitoring so that polluters can't change schedules and skew the results.
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The EPA is monitoring the air at 62 schools around the country, working with state and local officials to begin the study within three months.
While the EPA and state and local governments already operate air pollution monitoring networks, this will be the first time school-yard air quality will be the focus of their investigations.
The contaminants to be tested vary among schools, but the focus is toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer, respiratory and neurological problems, especially in children.
The schools were chosen because of their proximity to industrial facilities or other sources of pollution.
Kentucky Division of Air Quality assistant Director Sean Alteri said state air quality technicians will service the equipment, change filters and send the filters and other data to EPA labs for analysis.
School officials don't have to do anything with the equipment, said Joe Fraley, the school district's maintenance director.
Once preliminary information is available, the EPA plans to post it to a section of its Web site devoted to the study, www.epa.gov/schoolair.