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How toxic is the air in your neighborhood?

DeniseM

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This USA Today Report is based on air quality at schools, but you can easily find out what your neighborhood air quality is by choosing the school nearest your home.

Enter your info. (school, city, state) in the boxes where it says, "Find Your School" You can also put in just your city and state to see all the schools in your city.

It will tell you the major cancer causing and harmful pollutants in your air, and also what businesses are causing the pollution in your area.

I am sorry to say that my neighborhood has terrible air quality! 33rd percentile! :eek:
 
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dmbrand

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Interesting article

Our area schools didn't fair too well in this report, either. Too many paper factories in my area. 29th percentile DawnB
 
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AwayWeGo

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[triennial - points]
Choke. Gasp. Koff. Koff. Koff. Koff. Wheeze.

79th percentile.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.​
 

wackymother

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Wait, do we want to be lower or higher? Is 1st percentile good and 99th percentile bad?
 

DebBrown

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13th percentile! Other neighborhood schools as low as 6th percentile We're in the Chicago metro area so I guess that doesn't help much. I looked at schools in the 1st percentile in Illinois and they are only a couple of miles from here. :(

Deb
 

pjrose

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21st percentile. It's really rural and there is no industry to speak of. I doubt they're counting the cow manure :D
 

wackymother

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Oh, here it is. Okay, Alan and Lynne are doing better than we are here.

"The lower the ranking, the greater the likelihood that toxic chemicals could be present at levels that could threaten children's health."
 

DeniseM

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A low number is a bad score, a high number is a good score.
 

DeniseM

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21st percentile. It's really rural and there is no industry to speak of. I doubt they're counting the cow manure :D
On the same page, it tells you what the pollutants are and who the producers are. To my surprise, the worst polluter in our area is an almond processor - Blue Diamond, that uses a know carcinogen to process almonds.
 

donnaval

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Oh man, no wonder my eyes tear and itch all the time while I'm at home, and get better within hours when I go out of town! We're halfway between a 5th percentile and a 13th percentile. Sheesh--we moved out to the country for "Fresh Air!!!!":mad:
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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And if you believe this accurately tells you about air quality in your neighborhood, drop me a PM because I have some timeshares I would like to sell you.
 

DeniseM

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Steve - I'd love to hear proof that it's wrong, because I'm very concerned about the air quality in Modesto. Not just this report, but all reports give Modesto a very bad air quality rating.
 

Kal

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Trying to relate the Toxics Release Inventory Report(s) to localized air quality is a very, very unreliable use of that data. The credibility of the USAToday story is doubtful.

As a test, call any school listed and just ask them what kind of air quality monitors they have installed on their property. In most cases its temperature, wind direction and wind speed. That has nothing to do with air quality nor toxic chemical inventories.
 

Makai Guy

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This seems to relate solely to reported releases and your distance from the point sources, without taking prevailing wind patterns into consideration. Some of the stated "polluters" for my nearest school are in locations which are nearly always downwind from us.

I don't buy it.
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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Steve - I'd love to hear proof that it's wrong, because I'm very concerned about the air quality in Modesto. Not just this report, but all reports give Modesto a very bad air quality rating.
To start .. some background. For the last 10 years about half of my professional work has involved air quality, with particular work on estimating emissions of air pollutants, monitoring impacts, modeling the impacts of air pollutant emissions, and conducting ambient impacts assessments of air pollutant emissions. So this stuff is right up my alley. Frankly, I would be professionally embarrassed to have my name associated with a report such as this.

The methodology is riddled with problems. I'll just address two that individually completely invalidate the whole exercise.

First is that the TRI data source used accounts for less than one-third of the emissions of air toxics. It's like doing a study of the size and breadth of timeshare exchanging, while pretending that RCI doesn't exist.

So what are the missing sources of toxics? Vehicle emissions (particularly diesel emissions) and fireplaces and wood stoves. For example, the Puget Sound area ranks in the top 5% of urban areas in the USA for air toxics according to EPA. Within the Puget Sounda area, diesel exhaust accounts for more than 70% of air toxics emissions, and wood smoke is the next biggest at 6%. Drawing inferences when you leave out more than 3/4 of the emissions is laughable. The technical people who worked with USA Today on the study ought to be fully aware of that. If they were and went ahead anyway, shame on them. If they didn't then their credibility is out the window.

+++++

The second major issue is that the TRI inventory simply gives a location and reported emission rate. It makes a big difference whether something is emitted from a stack - at elevation, with exit velocity and elevated temperature - versus something that is released at ground level in a diffuse manner and with little bouyancy. There is no way they could obtain the information to conduct proper dispersion modeling using the TRI data source. There are other data sources with that information, but the fact that they used the TRI data source for that purpose totally impeaches the results.

+++++++

Now note what you have here. The emission inventory omits 75% of the toxics emitted. Further the toxics that are not included also happen to be released under the conditions that create the highest impacts. Diffuse sources, at ground level (wheere people breathe the air directly) and right next to our schools and houses.

And none of that is included in the modeling.

+++++++

If you're concerned about air toxics, it's seldom that industrial stacks are what you should be concerned about. You should first look at the vehicles that you and other people drive.

You meet the enemy every time you look in the mirror in the morning.
 
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M. Henley

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Wiswell, KY vs Murray, KY

Out at Wiswell, where I grew up (Southwest ERlementary, Calloway County, KY) thye percentile is 85.
Where I now live (near Murray Elementary) the percentile drops to 50th.
I knew I was right when I protested being annexed into the city. Air qualityt has gone down with population growth.
When I was a kid I could walk the gravel road to town (right by where I now live) and never see a car.
Now I have to wait to drive out of my driveway (onto the pavement, of course).
:wall:
 

wackymother

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As TRoglodyte says--they're not counting car emissions. If they were, my area would look a LOT worse. Only by eliminating car emissions can you make my town (just outside Manhattan) look about the same as Murray, Kentucky.
 

rhonda

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National Rank: 65th percentile
The air is worse at 83,123 schools across the nation

Work (near LJ Country Day School, UTC/San Diego, CA)
National Rank 43rd percentile
The air is worse at 54,392 schools across the nation

Weekends (near Warner Springs Elementary, Warner Springs, CA)
National Rank 88th percentile
The air is worse at 113,852 schools across the nation

Based on the 22% difference between Home and Work (less than 3 miles distance) I was thinking auto emissions were included. Lots of vehicles passing near the LJ Country Day School. Hmmm...
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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Based on the 22% difference between Home and Work (less than 3 miles distance) I was thinking auto emissions were included. Lots of vehicles passing near the LJ Country Day School. Hmmm...
The emissions are from the Toxics Release Inventory database. Emissions from mobile sources (which includes all vehicles, trains, aircraft, and ships) are most assuredly not included. Neither are emissions from many facilities that are not traditional "smokestack" industries, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants. Emissions from agricultural operations are also not included.
 

pjrose

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The emissions are from the Toxics Release Inventory database. Emissions from mobile sources (which includes all vehicles, trains, aircraft, and ships) are most assuredly not included. Neither are emissions from many facilities that are not traditional "smokestack" industries, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants. Emissions from agricultural operations are also not included.
Well, there goes my cow manure theory!

Thanks for all the info in your long post above; I teach Research Methods and Statistics (among other subjects) and am always pointing out to my students that you have to know the methodology of any study before you can evaluate its results. This one is a great example, and I'll probably mention it in one of my classes.
 
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T_R_Oglodyte

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Well, there goes my cow manure theory!

Thanks for all the info in your long post above; I teach Research Methods and Statistics (among other subjects) and am always pointing out to my students that you have to know the methodology of any study before you can evaluate its results. This one is a great example, and I'll probably mention it in one of my classes.
One of my pet peeves is doing the study, then selecting the methodology. In any property designed study, before you begin actually collecting the data you determine your methodology (including how you will analyze the data and what will be considered significant and insignificant). Of course, if you are doing advocacy science instead of real science, you collect the data then decide how you can best analyze the data to establish the point you desire to make.

++++++++

On those lines, I have a favorite anecdote. California was one of the early states to establish a tumor registry to aid in cancer epidemiology. (With a tumor registry, physicians report all diagnosed occurrences of tumors; that's very different from a death registry which only records when a tumor is diagnosed as a cause of death. In epidemiologic terms, that's "morbidity" data as opposed to "mortality" data.)

The Contra Costa shoreline areas of the SF Bay has a significant number of oil refineries and chemical plants. Simple reviews of data from the tumor registry also indicated that the Contra Costa shoreline communities from Richmond through Pittsburg also had elevated rates of cancer occurrence. From there the connection was frequently made that plant emissions were causing cancer. Others pointed out that correlation is not causation, and it was inappropriate to make those connections based on simple correlation.

After the issue was discussed for many years, eventually funding was raised to do a sound evaluation of the data. This involves actually reviewing specific cases, collecting medical and life histories of the individuals involved and adjusting for known correlating factors. The receipt of funding for the study was lauded greatly by certain individuals in the Bay Area, because they would now have the science needed to take aggressive actions against the industries.

So the study was done. The study confirmed what everyone knew - there was higher cancer occurrence in the communities closest to the plants. But, those communities also have higher occurrences of other factors that contribute to cancer, most notably smoking and diet. And of course we have very good data on the health risks associated with smoking and diet. When the data were corrected to account for those factors, the excess cancer morbidity rates in those communities disappeared. (Note: that does not mean that the plants either were or were not causing excess cancer; it merely means that any effect they might be causing is indistinguishable from normal variability.)

The interest things was the response of those who were so pleased that the study was funded. Although they agreed up front on the methodology, when the methodology didn't give them the answer they wanted their instant response was that the researchers had obviously botched the study.
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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It's also worth noting that the study totally excludes any naturally-occurring toxic chemicals.

++++++

Many people have a totally naive assumption that anything "pure" and "natural" does not have chemical risk. With that assumption they consider the sum of imputed or assumed "synthetic" risks as the associated risk of using the product.

That is simply not the case. Plants and organisms on earth routinely produce a variety of toxic chemicals for protection, defense, or just simply because they do. All life on earth has developed defense mechanisms to deal with those toxic chemicals.

In a variety of situations those natural risks, including natural carcinogenic risks, simply overwhelm the risks associated with synthetic chemicals.
 

M. Henley

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People?

I bet you would have to remove a bunch of people also!!
:)

As TRoglodyte says--they're not counting car emissions. If they were, my area would look a LOT worse. Only by eliminating car emissions can you make my town (just outside Manhattan) look about the same as Murray, Kentucky.
 
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