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Region 1: EPA New England

New England Results of the 2005 National Air Toxics Assessment


In March, EPA released the results of the 2005 National Scale Air Toxics Assessment (NATA). EPA utilized its air emission inventory complemented with state data to model ambient concentration estimates for 177 hazardous air pollutants, plus diesel particulate. In this assessment, EPA estimated people's exposure to air toxics to characterize public health risks.

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Key Findings in New England

Chemicals of Concern

  • State average risk values of five air toxics: acetaldehyde, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, formaldehyde and polycyclic organic matter (POM) exceeded health benchmarks in every state in New England, and state average risk values of five air toxics: 1, 3-butadiene, acrolein, arsenic compounds, chromium compounds and naphthalene exceeded health benchmarks in at least one state in New England. Most are carcinogens and may cause other health effects, such as respiratory irritation.
  • Diesel particulate matter is also modeled in 2005 NATA and exhibits a high exposure concentration and is included as an air toxic of concern. It was not included in the risk summary, however, because EPA has not determined a quantitative estimate of carcinogenic potency for this pollutant.
  • Significant emissions for seven of the air toxics of concern - acrolein, acetaldehyde, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, diesel particulate, formaldehyde and naphthalene - derive from mobile sources.
  • Background sources, including natural sources, unidentified sources, and long-range transport from distant sources, account for account for significant ambient air concentration estimates for 1,3-butadiene, arsenic and chromium compounds, benzene, and carbon tetrachloride.
  • Atmospheric transformation accounts for significant ambient air concentration estimates for acetaldehyde, acrolein and formaldehyde.
  • Significant emissions for six of the air toxics of concern – acrolein, acetaldehyde, arsenic and chromium compounds, naphthalene, and polycyclic organic matter (POM) – derive from combustion sources, including electric utility boilers, industrial boilers, as well as residential wood stoves and fireplaces.
  • County-level average risk values of perchloroethylene exceeded health benchmarks in several counties in New England and may be more of a health concern at the local level rather than at the regional level.
  • There are six other air toxic pollutants: asbestos, dioxin, lead, mercury, PCBs and radon, that are also a concern due to other routes of exposure or exposure from indoor sources and these continue to be a focus of our actions.

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Coordination with States and Tribes

EPA Region 1 coordinated with the states, tribal governments and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) Air Toxics and Public Health Subcommittee to review the results of NATA and quality assure the data prior to releasing the data to the public. The results of the NATA are dependent on this close, cooperative interaction to develop and refine the 2005 air toxics inventory.

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What has been done to reduce air toxics?

Since 1970 when the Clean Air Act was first enacted, EPA and the states have implemented control programs that have significantly reduced air pollution, including air toxics from mobile, stationary, and area sources. Beginning in 1990, EPA Region 1 has actively promoted the reduction of air toxics from indoor environments through educational efforts.

Reductions from Stationary and Area Sources

  • Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standards - EPA has issued over 90 maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards to reduce air toxics from over 170 major industrial sources, such as pulp mills, chemical manufacturers and aerospace manufacturers, as well as categories of smaller sources, such as dry cleaners, commercial sterilizers, and chromium electroplating facilities. When fully implemented, these standards are projected to reduce annual air toxics emissions by about 1.5 million tons nationwide. Find more information on air toxics regulation.
  • Area Source Regulations - EPA has developed regulations covering 68 smaller source categories which represent 90 percent of the emissions of the 30 urban air toxics. Find more information on the area source regulation.
  • Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention Efforts - In recent years, EPA Region 1 has focused its compliance assistance and pollution prevention outreach on specific industrial and commercial sectors, such as metal finishing, degreasers, hospitals, the hospitality sector, wood furniture, auto body shops, and printers and dry cleaners, to reduce air toxics. The region and states provides assistance through a variety of methods including mailings, workshops, site visits, and telephone assistance.
  • Rule Limiting Volatile Organic Compound Emissions – Many air toxics are also volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Over the past several decades, EPA and the New England states have enacted many regulations limiting emissions of these compounds to help combat the ground level ozone (smog) problem. For example, EPA has established control technique guidelines (CTGs) for many industrial sectors that the New England states have subsequently adopted rules for that are referred to as "reasonably available control technology", or RACT rules. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, EPA established eleven new CTGs covering a broad range of VOC emitting activities. States are currently in the process of adopting rules for the new CTG categories that they determine are applicable for the mix of industrial sources in their state. A list of EPA's CTGs can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/SIPToolkit/ctgs.html Additionally, many states have adopted rules to limit VOC from portable gasoline containers, architectural and industrial maintenance coatings, and many types of consumer products. A list of state adopted rules that EPA has approved into the each state's implementation plan can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/topics/air/sips/index.html In addition, VOC controls under the new source performance standards (NSPS) and new source review (NSR) program have resulted in the reduction of thousands of tons of air toxics regionally.
  • Enforcement Efforts - Every year, EPA Region 1 targets for inspection certain sectors that emit air toxics. In addition, as part of its normal course of field activity, EPA conducts inspections at a wide variety of facilities that emit toxic air pollutants.

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Reductions from Mobile Sources

  • EPA Regulations - Although mobile source standards were primarily put into place to regulate VOCs, CO, NOx, and particulate matter, they have reduced several air toxics, such as benzene, acrolein and 1,3-butadiene, significantly. Some of the emission standards affect the on-road mobile sector, while others impact engines that power non-road equipment. Program's affecting the on-road sector include the following: the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program; the stage II vapor recovery program and onboard refueling vapor recovery systems; the national low emission vehicle (NLEV) program; and the Tier 2 motor vehicle emissions standards and corresponding gasoline sulfur control requirements. Additionally, EPA has established emission standards for most categories of nonroad engines.
    • The NLEV and Tier 2 programs in particular will help reduce air toxics emissions from motor vehicles by an increasing amount with the passage of time, as more and more of the in-use fleet of vehicles are newer and built to meet these new standards. For example, benzene emissions from motor vehicles are expected to decline by approximately 70% between 2000 and 2010 due primarily to the new motor vehicle emission standards that limit VOC emissions.
    • Reformulated gasoline (RFG) is gasoline blended to burn cleaner and reduce smog-forming and toxic pollutants in the air we breathe. RFG is required by the Clean Air Act in cities with the worst smog pollution, but other cities with smog problems may choose to use RFG. A table of the current areas in the United States using RFG is available.
    • Gasoline dispensing pump vapor control devices, commonly referred to as Stage II vapor recovery control, are systems that control volatile organic compound (VOC) vapor releases during the refueling of motor vehicles. This process takes the vapors normally emitted directly into the atmosphere when pumping gas and recycles them back into the fuel storage tanks, preventing them from polluting the air. The Stage II system controls the release of VOC, benzene and toxics emitted from gasoline. See a map of the counties in New England that require Stage II vapor recovery controls.
    • As of the 2006 model year, all light-duty vehicles (vehicles with Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings of 8,500 pounds or less), which includes passenger cars, most sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks, are equipped with Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery (ORVR) controls. ORVR-equipped vehicles are designed to force fuel vapors in the gas tank to travel to an activated carbon canister, which adsorbs the vapors, upon vehicle refueling events. When the engine is in operation, the gasoline vapors captured by the carbon canister are recycled into the vehicle's engine intake manifold and used as fuel. These ORVR systems are essentially a more effective way to address the same VOC vapors as Stage II vapor recovery controls. Thus, in the near future some areas of New England may begin to phase out Stage II vapor recovery systems, as ORVR-equipped vehicles continue to penetrate the motor vehicle fleet.
    • In 1994, EPA began a program to reduce emissions from large, diesel fueled non-road engines found on equipment such as back-hoes, cranes, and agricultural equipment. Engines on smaller equipment have also been required to emit less air pollution. Gasoline powered engines sized 25 horsepower or lower typically found on lawn and garden equipment were initially regulated in 1997, and became subject to tighter emission limits that were phased in between 2001 and 2007. Locomotive engines are perhaps the largest land-based non-road engines, and they have been required to meet emission limits to reduce their air emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by two-thirds, and their hydrocarbon and particulate matter (PM) emissions by 50 percent.
    • EPA's regulatory program for non-road engines is not limited to land-based equipment; marine vessels and aircraft have also been required to lower their pollution levels. EPA began phasing in requirements that new, gasoline fueled marine engines meet stringent emission levels in 1998. By 2006 this program was completely phased in, with the result that engines manufactured after this date were 75% cleaner than those made prior to 1998. Diesel fueled marine engines also have been required to meet emission limits such as those required by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (also known as the MARPOOL convention). In addition to these international standards, EPA has also adopted additional emission standards for diesel fueled vessels flagged in the United States. And last, emission limits have been established for gas turbine engine equipped aircraft, which is the most typical type of aircraft used in commercial aviation. Find more information on non-road engines standards.
  • Air Toxics Regulations - Additionally, some mobile source control programs have been specifically aimed at reducing toxics emissions, such as our leaded gasoline phase-out program, and the RFG program mentioned above. One of the biggest steps taken towards addressing emissions of air toxics from mobile sources came on March 29, 2001 (66 FR 17230) when EPA published a final rule which identified 21 mobile source air toxics (MSAT) and set new gasoline toxic emission performance standards on refiners. To further reduce emissions from MSAT, we established additional stringent new controls on gasoline, passenger vehicles, and portable fuel containers on February 26, 2007 (72 FR 8428). On October 16, 2008, EPA published a final rule which further revises the February 26, 2007 MSAT rule by adding another specific benzene control technology, benzene alkylation.
  • Diesel Regulations - EPA required significant reductions of diesel pollution from new heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses, and passed a regulation that greatly reduced the allowable amount of sulfur in the diesel fuel these engines consume. In combination, these measures mean that new diesel engines manufactured to meet the 2007 emissions standards are up to 95 percent cleaner than their predecessors.
  • Anti-idling Regulations - Running a vehicle's engine while it is stopped (known as idling) wastes fuel and results in tailpipe emissions that pollute the air, including air toxics pollutants. All six New England states have anti-idling restrictions in place that apply to some or all diesel vehicles and equipment. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have included their rules in the "state implementation plans" that states submit to EPA outlining how they will meet national air quality standards. Rules in the state implementation plan are enforceable by the state and by EPA. EPA has been rigorously enforcing anti-idling laws to help reduce air pollution.
  • Inspection and Maintenance Programs - Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) is a way to check whether the emission control system on a vehicle is working correctly. All new passenger cars and trucks sold in the United States today must meet stringent pollution standards, but they can only retain this low-pollution profile if the emission controls and engine are functioning properly. I/M is designed to ensure that vehicles stay clean in actual customer use. Through periodic vehicle checks and required repairs for vehicles that fail the test, I/M encourages proper vehicle maintenance and discourages tampering with emission control devices. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont are all required by the Clean Air Act to have vehicle inspection and maintenance programs as shown in a Map of Areas in New England with Vehicle Inspection Programs (PDF) (1 pg, 478K, about PDF)

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Indoor Air

  • Indoor air toxics have been reduced through programs such as the radon program, the asthma program, and "Tools for Schools," which has reduced children's exposure to toxics in schools. The radon program funds state offices to promote public outreach and testing of homes for radon gas. The EPA Region 1 Asthma Team works with the Asthma Regional Council, a partnership of multi-Federal and state agencies, state asthma coordinators, state and local coalitions to train health professionals on environmental triggers of asthma, promote public education and home remediation of asthma triggers. EPA Region 1 and the states are working to promote "Tools for Schools". Notably, the Connecticut Schools Resource Team has worked with over 90% of Connecticut's schools on implementing "Tools for Schools" measures that help to reduce air toxics and other indoor air problems in schools. EPA Region 1 has also worked extensively to educate the public regarding the risks from environmental tobacco smoke, which contains at least five of the air toxics of concern in measurable quantities. In addition to gathering smoke outside pledges, State and local coalitions are also promoting smoke free apartments and public housing complexes. Find more information on indoor air quality.

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Recommendations for Further Reductions of Air Toxics

Although much has been accomplished to reduce air toxics emissions in the ambient air, the results of the 2005 NATA indicate that a concern for public health risks from air toxics remains. Measures that EPA and the states might take include focusing on source reduction efforts through risk characterization activities, focusing on areas of concern, including environmental justice areas of concern, as well as enforcement program enhancements, and coordination of outreach efforts. These efforts should include cost effective methods of reductions, including state of the art control technologies, pollution prevention and workplace practices.

Improved Risk Characterization

  • Air Toxics Inventory - To better assess risks, we need to improve the emissions inventories. All New England states worked with EPA to refine and quality assure the 2005 inventory. EPA, in coordination with the states and tribal governments, needs to expand inventory efforts to better characterize sources of air toxics emissions.
  • Air Toxics Monitoring - EPA, the states and tribal governments need to work together to evaluate existing data, verify air toxics modeling efforts and prioritize the needs for expanding future monitoring, within the scope of available resources. Since 2000, EPA has significantly increased its ambient air toxics monitoring efforts. EPA recently established 23 national trends sites to assess ambient air toxics trends, with three trends sites located in New England. In addition, state, local and tribal agencies have established over 300 ambient air toxics monitoring sites nationwide. In 2004, EPA also began awarding grants to state and local agencies to conduct short term local-scale monitoring projects. In 2009, EPA announced an initiative to monitor air toxics at schools. However, more can be done to continue improving the available air toxics monitoring data.

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Reductions from Community and State Projects

  • Competitive Grants to Help Communities Reduce Risk - In order to customize reduction action plans for specific localities, EPA Region 1 has expanded assistance to communities and has awarded funding under the Healthy Communities Grant Program. EPA Region 1 worked with several communities, including Lawrence, MA, New Haven, CT and the North Shore of Massachusetts to assemble their air inventories and use the data to develop risk reduction strategies.
  • Maine Air Toxics Initiative Click icon for EPA disclaimer. - EPA Region 1 has worked with the State of Maine on the Maine Air Toxics Initiative (MATI), a facilitated stakeholder initiative established to identify the air toxics responsible for creating health risks in Maine, the sources of those pollutants, and creation of cost effective solutions to reduce the risk. In March 2009, Maine published an Air Toxics Strategy for the State of Maine. EPA Region 1 helped provide funding for this initiative under the EPA Healthy Communities Grant Program.
  • Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) - EPA has launched a national program designed to assist communities in identifying and reducing multi-media exposure to toxic pollution. EPA has funded over 8 community coalitions to implement local actions in New England. Many communities are using the CARE voluntary approach to partner with businesses, government, and nonprofit groups to reduce toxic air pollutants.
    • New Haven, CT has received funding so that the community can continue to work to reduce air toxics risks as well as to develop actions to preserve its coastal lands and wetlands. The city has established an office of sustainability to continue its CARE work.
    • "Somerville Community Design" is working to develop a broad based collaborative partnership to ensure community input on transportation planning and provide education on reducing air pollution.
    • The City of Boston conducted an extensive "Safe Shops" program for auto body shops to reduce toxic emissions and has recently expanded its work to nail salons.
    • In Holyoke, Massachusetts, a CARE grantee, "Nuestras Raices," and EPA conducted workshops for auto body shops and Nuestras Raices is working on weatherization and energy efficiency projects.
    • Responding to a new national interest on better job training to promote "green jobs" as a basis for reducing toxic emissions, EPA Region 1 will be working worked with Bridgeport, Connecticut, a CARE grantee, local educational institutions, and industrial trade associations in Connecticut to offer a workshops for auto body shops and degreasing facilities with a "green facility manager" emphasis in late 2009.
    • Coalitions in Portland, Maine and Springfield, MA received CARE funding to collect multi-media data and prioritize issues.
  • Providence trichloroethylene (TCE) Reduction Project - Through a grant to the surface cleaning lab at the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute, EPA Region 1 helped in an innovative project that offered on-site assistance to encourage companies doing degreasing using TCE in the Providence area to switch to non-toxic alternatives such as aqueous cleaners. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management worked closely with EPA on this project, supplying data and encouraging companies to participate in the project. This effort resulted in a reduction of nearly 75% of the total reported TCE use by participating firms, from 26,000 pounds per year to less than 7,000 pounds per year.

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Expanded Mobile Source Efforts

  • Northeast Diesel Collaborative - Reducing diesel emissions and associated air toxics is a significant focus of EPA Region 1 and the states. Through the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, EPA Regions 1 and 2, NESCAUM and the eight Northeast states are expanding programs to reduce these harmful emissions. The Northeast Diesel Collaborative promotes a range of strategies to reduce diesel emissions, including retrofitting buses, trucks, construction equipment, locomotives and port equipment with advanced pollution controls, accelerated fleet turnover, the use of cleaner diesel fuel such as ultra-low sulfur diesel and biodiesel, idle reduction measures, and heavy duty engine inspection and maintenance programs.
    Find other programs that address diesel emissions.
  • Diesel Emissions Reduction Funding – EPA New England has funded projects to reduce emissions from school buses, construction equipment, port equipment and marine vessels, highway vehicles, and municipal vehicles, including utility trucks, dump trucks, and recycle/waste haulers. Diesel emissions reductions strategies include retrofits, idle reduction technology, cleaner fuels, and replacement and repowering of equipment and vehicles to meet more stringent emissions standards. From 2006-2008, the Clean School Bus and Voluntary Diesel Retrofit programs funded almost $2.3 million in projects that reduced emissions from diesel engines in the six New England states. In fiscal year 2008, Congress appropriated funding for the first time for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program (DERA), and funding has been received for two additional years. The total of the three years of funding for the state program in Region 1 has reached almost $4.9 million. In addition, Region 1 ran two competitive programs, one in 2008 and one in 2010 that awarded approximately $5.8 million for further diesel emissions reductions.
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 State and National Clean Diesel Funding – On February 17, 2009, the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("Recovery Act") which included $300 million nationally for the Diesel Emissions Reduction program (DERA). Approximately $8.8 million in Recovery Act DERA funds were competed in Region 1, with seven organizations receiving funding for nine projects. Through the Recovery Act State Clean Diesel Program, each of the six New England states received $1.73 million. These programs are designed to achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions, maximize job creation and/or preservation, and promote economic growth.

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Greater Risk Reduction from Stationary Sources

  • Targeting Significant Emitters - As part of the inspection targeting process, EPA Region 1 considers information from the NATA as well as information about risk in selecting source categories to inspect.
  • Superior Environmental Performance - State rules and projects approved as alternatives to EPA NESHAP standards can result in additional air toxics reductions, while providing states with flexibility. States can apply to substitute equivalent state requirements in place of the federal NESHAPs. EPA Region 1 has recently worked with several states on these kinds of projects/regulations, including: approval of the revised Massachusetts dry cleaning rule, review of the Maine revisions to its dry cleaning rule, and approval of the Rhode Island halogenated solvent rule. EPA Region 1 continues to support the states in implementing and expanding these efforts.
  • Residual Risk Standards - In order to control excessive risks remaining after MACT implementation, EPA Region 1 can assist Headquarters review of MACT standards and advocate further regulation where necessary, particularly for source categories prevalent in New England. When EPA revises requirements, the states and regions should conduct outreach to sources. For example, we are conducting conducted outreach across New England to educate shops using halogenated solvents for degreasing on new facility-wide emission limits in recent residual risk standards.
  • Area Source Regulations - EPA is looking at pollution prevention and flexible approaches for EPA and the states to implement the recent area source regulations. EPA Region 1 continues to work on developing this program and is encouraging the states to take delegation of these regulations. EPA Region 1 is working with the states to identify the categories with the most impact in New England. The region has specifically requested that the states assist with implementing a strategy for several key sectors in New England including: the national emission standard for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for paint stripping and miscellaneous surface coating operations, including auto body refinishing; the NESHAP for reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE); and the NESHAP for industrial, commercial and institutional boilers.
  • National Collision Repair Campaign – EPA is implementing a national collision repair campaign to focus on meaningful risk reduction in the Collision Repair source sector. Under this Campaign, EPA Region 1 will continue to provide training, technical assistance, and outreach to local communities and shop owners about established best management and pollution prevention practices, as well as to promote compliance with the auto body NESHAP. EPA Region 1 has used NATA data to help target this assistance to areas and shops (often in urban and industrial areas) with a greater health risk due to air toxics. EPA Region 1 developed GIS maps displaying areas of elevated cancer and non-cancer risk using NATA data, location of sensitive receptors such as schools and nursing homes, and the location of auto body shops.
  • Energy Efficiency - EPA Region 1 works with the New England states and municipalities to implement clean energy and energy efficiency to reduce green house gases and other air pollutants including air toxics emissions. Over 175 communities in New England have joined the Region's Community Energy Challenge and have committed to reduce their energy use by at least 10%. Using the ENERGY STAR portfolio manager tool, EPA assists these communities in benchmarking their building's energy use and identifying potential for reductions. Additionally, the Region is providing technical assistance to water and waste water treatment plants in reducing their energy use. The region has also worked with states, municipalities, academic institutions and regional organizations to promote green power and combined heat and power.

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Wood Combustion

  • Woody Biomass Commercial and Institutional Boilers – In 2008, EPA Regions 1 and 8 led an effort to establish a joint EPA, U.S. Forest Service, State workgroup to discuss air quality issues associated with small woody biomass boilers at schools, hospitals, and other institutions. This workgroup developed white papers and a strategy to promote cleaner wood-burning boilers and continues to share information and develop outreach materials (e.g., "Air Pollution Control Technology for Woody Biomass Boilers", March 2009). EPA has identified commercial and institutional boilers, including wood-fired boilers, for regulation under the area source NESHAP program. EPA proposed regulations for these boilers on June 4, 2010 and the EPA Administrator signed final regulations on February 21, 2011.
  • Residential Wood Combustion – EPA, the states and the tribes are working to promote voluntary and regulatory approaches to cleaner wood burning from residential woodstoves, fireplaces, and outdoor hydronic heaters. EPA is promoting voluntary development and purchase of hydronic heaters that meet "Phase 2" emission standards (0.32 pounds of particle pollution per million BTUs of heat output) under EPA's Hydronic Heaters Program. EPA Region 1 also is working with the New England states to develop state regulations consistent with the EPA-supported NESCAUM model rule for outdoor hydronic heaters. Currently, all New England states except Connecticut have regulations with emissions standards for new units. For existing units, EPA is encouraging states, tribes and communities to initiate change out programs to replace older wood-burning appliances with EPA-certified stoves or fireplaces. In New England, Vermont and the city of Keene, New Hampshire, have partnered with EPA and others to implement change out campaigns. The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point is partnering with EPA and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to implement a woodstove change out campaign for all uncertified stoves on the reservation.
    Find more information about wood emissions and EPA's residential wood-burning programs.

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Comprehensive Toxic Reduction and Coordination

  • Air toxics are generated from sources indoors and from sources outside. EPA's indoor and ambient air programs will continue to coordinate to develop an effective outreach program to comprehensively reduce risks from all air toxics. Efficient coordinated outreach includes working with health care professionals, to emphasize that air toxics have health impacts such as cancer, as well as asthma. EPA Region 1 is working with public health partners including various Health Departments, the American Lung Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and pollution prevention programs to coordinate on a comprehensive risk message.

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