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The Air Toxics Program within IDEM’s Office of Air Quality (OAQ) conducts air toxics studies to help protect Hoosiers from adverse human health risks and environmental effects.

IDEM’s air risk staff screens air toxics monitoring data to identify areas where immediate (acute) threats may exist. To date, IDEM has not identified an immediate public health threat from air toxics in any area of Indiana. IDEM conducts a periodic analysis that it calls “ToxWatch,” to provide the public with information about long-term air toxics trends and public health affects for specific substances.

IDEM utilizes air toxics monitoring data and air toxics models, including U.S. EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) to identify areas that warrant special study such as an air risk assessment. To date, IDEM has conducted studies in the following local communities:

  • Indiana Lakeshore Air Toxics Screening:
    • IDEM conducted an assessment of air toxics in the highly industrialized and heavily traveled area of Lake and Porter Counties. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) identified this area as a potential high risk area via its 2005 NATA. IDEM performed a detailed evaluation using methods specifically developed for evaluating air quality on a community-level scale. IDEM evaluated ambient air monitoring data and performed air dispersion modeling of industrial and mobile sources (cars and trucks) within the study area to assess potential health risks. The results of the study indicate that air toxics concentrations and risk within the lakeshore area are not as high as reported by previous national scale screening analyses.
  • IPS School 21 Risk Characterization and Reduction Project:
    • The School 21 project was spurred by community concerns and involved 5 years of active air toxics monitoring as well as an extensive modeling effort. No non-cancer hazards were found in the study area. Cancer risk was found to be elevated but still within acceptable levels as defined by the U.S. EPA.
  • Southwest Indianapolis Air Toxics Study:
    • The Southwest Indianapolis Air Toxics Study was initiated because the 2002 NATA found southwest Indianapolis to have some of the highest air toxics concentrations in the nation. IDEM partnered with U.S. EPA and the City of Indianapolis to better quantify the impact of air toxics in the area. Through two years of monitoring and an extensive modeling effort it was found that southwest Indianapolis' non-cancer hazards and cancer risks were similar to those found in other metropolitan areas around the country.
  • ToxWatch Monitoring Data Study 2006-2015:
    • ToxWatch is an ambient air quality monitoring program conducted by the Office of Air Quality (OAQ) within the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The program actively monitors air toxic concentrations at various monitoring sites within the state of Indiana. At any given time there are approximately 10 active monitoring sites within the state. The study presented here pulled air toxic concentration readings that were collected over a ten year period from 2006-2015.

IDEM works in coordination with U.S. EPA to aid in scientific efforts for the sound management of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Through U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes Air Deposition (GLAD) program, IDEM works to highlight the need to better understand the impacts associated with the deposition of toxic pollutants and their adverse effects on human health and the ecosystem within the Great Lakes basin.

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