Highlands Partners with ACHD to Monitor Air

Highlands School District Board of Directors and administration recently were notified of findings of poor air quality in the community.


The district contacted Allegheny County Health Department and requested an air quality test of Highlands High School. The high school now is a testing site for the Allegheny County Health Department to sample and monitor air in the community with special equipment. The testing will not disturb the daily operations of the school.


The monitoring being conducted by the health department takes into consideration factors such as production levels of nearby plants, wind speed, weather, wind direction and variations in those factors over a long period of time. It monitors the air for 24 hours every four to six days. The long-term monitoring also allows the department to determine what contaminants are in the air and if they are harmful.


In addition to the outdoor monitoring site, the district requested that the health department conduct an interior air quality test to ensure that our students and faculty are not being put at risk while in school.


The testing will determine if levels of nickel, magnesium, chromium or lead found in the communitys air are at harmful levels. A harmful level of chromium in the air is one particular concern noted in an article in a local daily newspaper.


Based on the first eight samples, the chromium six levels are extremely low, an average of 0.063 and do not indicate any significant cancer risk (its well below the level of 0.08 for a one in a million cancer risk, which is considered acceptable.), said Mr. Guillermo Cole, of the health department, in a report to district officials.


The health department also advised officials that there is no reason for panic, according to monitoring results.


The school board and administration are committed to the health and safety of our students and employees. We will coordinate with the health department as a testing site to continue more precise testing.

This article originally published in September 2009.