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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2004

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

Camden Community Joins DEP "Bucket Brigade" to Fight Air Pollution

(04/02) CAMDEN - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today launched the first New Jersey "Bucket Brigade" pilot project in the city of Camden's Waterfront South Community, training local residents on how to collect air samples and measure pollution exposure in their neighborhoods.

"This is an important part of Governor McGreevey's commitment to protecting communities against exposure to toxics and honoring communities right to know about potential threats to their health and safety," said DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell. "The Bucket Brigade effort enables us to empower community groups so that, working together, we can quickly assess how citizens are being impacted by air pollution and identify ways to limit their exposure."

The Bucket Brigade project is a community-based component of a larger Air Toxics Pilot Project in Camden. As part of the project, DEP-trained citizens use a simple five-gallon plastic bucket to collect an air sample into a plastic bag. The residents will take the samples over a short, four-minute period during odor episodes or other times of concern. These samples are then analyzed for sulfur-containing, odorous substances and volatile organic compounds such as benzene.

Two community groups are participating in the Bucket Brigade, including South Camden Citizens in Action and the Antioch Community Development Corporation. Today, the Bucket Brigade took four baseline air samples in the Camden Waterfront South neighborhood. About 11 samples are planned over the next three-to-four months during odor episodes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the DEP a $100,000 grant to support the Air Toxics Pilot Project. The bucket samplers cost approximately $100 each and are reusable. As part of the Air Toxics Pilot Project, approximately, $20,000 was given to the Camden County Health Department to assist the DEP in collecting air emissions information and to conduct additional air compliance inspections in Camden.

"When residents are aware of and involved in what is happening in their local environment, everyone benefits," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. "The Bucket Brigade will give people a better understanding of what is in the air they breathe -- information that is particularly important to Camden residents, who suffer from high rates of asthma. EPA is proud to support this project."

DEP launched the pilot project in the Camden Waterfront South area because of known sources of air toxics emissions in and near the residential community. Although the DEP has been monitoring in the air for a number of years in Camden, more detailed information about air toxics and particulate matter emitted by individual facilities in this neighborhood is limited. Information about how these emissions result in actual inhalation exposure for citizens living in the neighborhood also is limited.

"The air samples collected by residents will help fill in important data gaps about local air pollution and help assess residents' potential exposure to outdoor pollutants," Commissioner Campbell added.

In addition to monitoring air quality through Bucket Brigade efforts, the pilot project will include fine particulate sampling. A monitor that measures fine particulate matter (particles with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, also known as PM2.5) has been placed on the roof of the Camden County Utilities Authority building near the corner of Ferry and Jackson Streets. This monitor uses a continuous sampling and analysis method that allows the observations to be viewed in real-time. The results are now available on the DEP website at www.state.nj.us/dep/airmon/.

The Air Toxics Pilot Project is focusing on industrial and manufacturing sources of air pollution, plus particulate emissions from diesel trucks. Most of the sources are located within the boundaries of the Waterfront South neighborhood, but some large facilities or sources of special concern that are located near the neighborhood are also included. Over 50 facilities were identified for inclusion in the pilot and 27 of these facilities have been included in a dispersion modeling analysis. Dispersion modeling is a mathematical calculation that predicts how far, how fast, and in what direction certain gases and/or particulate matter will move into the air from any given location.

A major component of the Air Toxics Pilot Project is to formulate strategies to reduce exposure and prevent air pollution in the Camden Waterfront South neighborhood. DEP, local community members, the state Department of Health, New Jersey Tree Foundation, and others are currently formulating a list of projects that could be undertaken by companies, government agencies, schools and community groups to help improve the neighborhood's air quality. Some of those strategies include pollution prevention activities at local industries, reducing idling by diesel trucks, environmental health education initiatives, and community gardens.

DEP has operated a comprehensive air monitoring laboratory in Camden for more than 30 years. The original monitoring facility was shut down in September 2003 and, this month a new, upgraded facility was opened to accommodate DEP's expanded monitoring activities. In addition, an improved platform is under construction for some of the sampling equipment previously located on the roof of the old structure. The site, located at Copewood and Davis Streets, is one of the most comprehensive in the state and monitors for a wide range of air contaminants.

 

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