This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency released a list of 62 schools around the country set to have their air quality studied as part of what the agency calls "a new air toxics monitoring initiative." And there's a Dallas Independent School District elementary on the list: N.W. Harllee, so named for a textbook author and Dallas educator, on Eighth Street, right between R.L. Thornton Freeway and the Trinity River and across the street from Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center. The EPA says that around Harllee, it's looking specifically for carbonyls (such as formaldehyde, exposure to which can cause liver damage) and Volatile Organic Compounds.
The EPA's testing is in direct response to a USA Today special report called "The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America's Schools," which ranked Harllee in the 52nd percentile nationwide for exposure to cancer-causing toxins and other harmful chemicals. DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander tells Unfair Park that EPA officials called yesterday to notify the district the testing would take place.
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"Great, we welcome that," he says. "That's wonderful. How can you go wrong with additional air quality testing around your school?" It's scheduled to begin within the next 60 days.