IDEM Announces Southwest Indianapolis Air Toxics Study

Friday, August 18, 2006

IDEM announces southwest Indianapolis air toxics study

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has begun a multi-year study of air quality in southwest Indianapolis neighborhoods. The study will focus on more than 60 hazardous air pollutants, also referred to as air toxics, that are regulated by the Clean Air Act. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) awarded $244,000 grant to IDEM to conduct the study, partly because the 1996 and 1999 National Air Toxics Assessments (NATAs) identified southwest Indianapolis as an area of concern.

Air toxics are emitted from certain factories and commercial establishments, motor vehicles, wood-burning fireplaces and stoves and other human activities. Air toxics can also come into neighborhoods from distant sources.

"While the NATAs point us in the right direction, I believe that actual air quality measurements form the best foundation for assessing health risk from air toxics," said IDEM commissioner Thomas W. Easterly. "We will work with U.S. EPA officials, the City of Indianapolis, local community groups, environmental groups and local businesses to keep them informed of the study's capabilities, results and recommendations."

IDEM has developed a community outreach plan and has established a Technical Advisory Group in order to best address community concerns and technical issues. Computer simulations will be used to supplement the measured air quality data in order to see how air toxics levels vary throughout the entire study area. Standard U.S. EPA methods and recommendations from the Technical Advisory Group will be used to characterize and communicate the results of the study to the public.

The study area will be roughly bound by 10th Street to the north, Bluff Road on the east, Hanna Avenue to the south and High School Road to the west. Stationary automatic monitors will collect air samples at two locations in the central portion of the study for two years. IDEM will compile an emissions inventory, which is a list of local sources of air toxics that includes amounts and method of release into the air.

"This study will help all of us better understand the role that air toxics have on air quality in southwest Indianapolis," said Easterly.

About IDEM

IDEM implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting and improving Indiana's environment. IDEM pursues enforcement action when a party disregards safety and endangers human health.