Air Quality in Your Community - North Charleston
DHEC has been monitoring the air in the Charleston area since the late 1960's. Records indicate that an air monitor has been collecting data at the fire station on Jenkins Avenue in North Charleston since 1969. The air monitors in the Charleston area collect data that help us determine the amounts of total suspended particulates (TSP) and criteria air pollutants that are in the air. This data helps us compare the area's air quality to the national standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since we started monitoring the area's air quality, we've seen the concentrations of all these pollutants decrease and remain below the level of the national standards, even as the standards have become lower and more protective of public health.
Even though air quality in the Charleston area meets national standards, improving air quality beyond these standards to protect people's health will always be a priority for DHEC. EPA recently lowered the standards for particulate matter and ground-level ozone because they have potential to cause widespread health impacts across much of the country. In the Charleston area, two PM2.5 monitors and two Ozone monitors show that PM and ozone concentrations are lower than these new standards. DHEC is working with citizens, local governments and industry to ensure that the air quality continues to improve. Monitors in the Charleston area consistently show that TSP, PM10, NOX, SO2 and lead are well below the national standards.
Monitoring Air Toxics in North Charleston
Currently, there are no national ambient standards for air toxics. However, DHEC has been measuring the concentrations of some compounds that are air toxics across the state and in the Charleston area for many years as part of the SC ambient monitoring network. Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) samples are routinely analyzed for toxic metals such as manganese, chromium, nickel, copper and lead, a metal for which there is an a National Ambient Air Quality Standard.
School Air Toxics Monitoring Study
As part of our ongoing efforts to monitor and improve air quality, DHEC partnered with EPA to monitor the air around Chicora Elementary School and the surrounding community. We measured the amounts of toxic pollutants found in the air to see if the levels could be unsafe for the health of the children, staff, and nearby residents. Chicora Elementary was chosen for the study because it is located near a variety of pollution sources: cars, trucks, and buses on the highway and interstate, fueling stations, dry cleaners, and large industries. Children's health is a priority, and DHEC and EPA are working together to make sure school environments are safe and healthy.
Beginning in July, 2009, DHEC participated in the monitoring effort by operating the sampling equipment at the school and collecting the air samples for EPA. DHEC also collected additional samples from the Jenkins Avenue monitoring site, and from a new monitor located in the Howard Heights community.
The monitors collected samples from July 18, 2009, through March 2, 2010. The samples taken from all three locations showed similar monitoring results and were consistent with monitoring that has been done in other industrialized areas in SC and around the country.
Based on EPA's evaluations of the monitoring results, EPA and DHEC determined that the air quality near Chicora Elementary was safe and did not pose any public health concerns from short-term or long-term exposure.
DHEC will continue to oversee industrial facilities in the area through regulatory programs, such as air permits and periodic facility inspections, to ensure best practices are being used to control emissions. DHEC will also continue to encourage reductions in mobile source emissions through implementation of appropriate national and state-wide programs. DHEC does not regulate mobile sources of pollution, like cars, trucks, etc., but is actively engaged in education and outreach programs designed to encourage the public to reduce emissions from these sources. For more information about EPA's monitoring study results and analysis, please visit EPA's Chicora Elementary webpage.
For more information please contact the Bureau of Air Quality at (803) 898-4123 or by email.