Linn County Air Quality Division
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Air Toxics Media Coverage

Local & National Media Coverage

Beginning December 9, 2008, USA Today ran a series of article titled "The Smokestack Effect."  Many of the local and national media picked up on these reports, highlighting points of local interest.  Of particular note was that several Cedar Rapids schools including Johnson Elementary School were ranked in the top percentiles for risk to air toxic exposre by USA Today.  We have been independently analyzed the air toxics risks represented by USA Today and challenge their findings.  

Click here for more information on why Linn County Public Health challenges the finding by USA Today.
To see plans of our current air pollutant monitoring study already underway, click here.
Please contact us with any additional questions or clarifications.

Following is a listing of recent local and national media coverage regarding the USA Today investigation of industrial pollution and schools.

Cedar Rapids
Gazette - Air quality report disputed - 12/9/08 - Johnson Elementary School ranked among schools nationwide with the worst outdoor air quality, according to a newspaper analysis but local officials disagree with the report. "They used a very generic set of assumptions in their model," said Jim Hodina, supervisor of the air quality division at Linn County Public Health.

USA Today - Health risks stack up for students near industrial plants – 12/8/08 - Using the government's most up-to-date model for tracking toxic chemicals, USA TODAY spent eight months examining the impact of industrial pollution on the air outside schools across the nation. The model is a computer simulation that predicts the path of toxic chemicals released by thousands of companies. USA TODAY used it to identify schools in toxic hot spots — a task the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had never undertaken. - Problems are widespread - "What if we're next?" - Cancer at Port Neches schools - Who's responsible? - EPA nominee pledges to address toxic hot spots around schools

USA Today Opinion Page

Our view on protecting children - 12/11/2008 - Students choke as EPA sighs; is anyone paying attention? Report reveals inadequate testing, lax attitudes toward toxic air risk.

Opposing view: EPA makes 'steady progress' – 12/11/2008
Agency has a variety of programs to protect children at their schools.

Des Moines Register - Iowa schools rank high in polluted-air study - 12/8/09 - School officials are calling on government officials to test the air near several Iowa schools after a national study revealed the state's students may be exposed to some of the most toxic air found in schoolyards nationally. The study by USA Today found that 224 of 1,785 Iowa schools studied ranked in the top 10 percent of the most-toxic outdoor air nationally, according to 2005 data. Just more than half of Iowa schools ranked in the top 50 percent nationally.

KWWL-TV (Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Ch. 7 NBC) - Toxic school air
- 12/9/08 - A new report says Iowa children may be exposed to some of the most toxic air in the country. The only eastern Iowa school on the list is Johnson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids.

NBC Today Show – Is School Making Your Kids Sick? – 12/8/08 – USA Today is launching an investigative report on how hundreds of school kids may be exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals at schools.