Background Concentrations of 18 Air Toxics for North America

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Courtesy of Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA)

ABSTRACT

Of the 188 hazardous air pollutants, or 'air toxics,' identified by the U.S. Clean Air Act, 18 were targeted as the most important in a 10-city pilot study conducted in 2001 and 2002 as part of the National Air Toxics Trend Sites Program. This paper describes the pilot study.

The U.S. Clean Air Act identifies 188 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), or “air toxics,” associated with adverse human health effects. Of these air toxics, 18 were targeted as the most important in a 10-City Pilot Study conducted in 2001 and 2002 as part of the National Air Toxics Trend Sites Program. In the present analysis, measurements available from monitoring networks in North America were used to estimate boundary layer background concentrations and trends of these 18 HAPs. The background concentrations reported in this study are as much as 85% lower than those reported in recent studies of HAP concentrations. Background concentrations of some volatile organic compounds were analyzed for trends at the 95% confidence level; only carbon tetrachloride (CCI4) and tetrachloroethylene decreased significantly in recent years. Remote background concentrations were compared with the one-in-a-million (i.e., 106) cancer benchmarks to determine the possible causes of health risk in rural and remote areas; benzene, chloroform, formaldehyde, and chromium (Cr) fine particulate were higher than cancer benchmark values. In addition, remote background concentrations were found to contribute between 5% and 99% of median urban concentrations.

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