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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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April 30, 2010

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994


(10/P31) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection has launched a follow-up air monitoring project to verify that a toxin found in a previous air study in Paterson was an anomaly, Commissioner Bob Martin said today.

The study is using air monitors in an area around the 100 block of Broadway to confirm that
p-dichlorobenzene is no longer present at elevated levels. The chemical was measured at levels higher than levels detected at monitoring stations in other parts of the state during a broader study of air quality in the city. The elevated levels occurred during a two-month span during the 14-month study.

“Our initial investigation was unable to pinpoint a source of this chemical,” Commissioner Martin said. “The DEP believes the previous detections resulted from activities that have since ceased, but we want to make certain this is no longer a problem. If the new monitoring detects elevated levels of this chemical again, the DEP will launch additional investigations to track down the source.”

P-dichlorobenzene is used in urinal cakes, dyes and pharmaceutical products. The DEP is conducting this second study using a $158,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA provided $495,000 for the first Paterson study, which is the most comprehensive urban air analysis ever undertaken in New Jersey.

The broader study found that Paterson’s air quality is consistent with other urban areas in New Jersey. It found that eight additional toxins consistently exceeded DEP long-term health standards, but these results were consistent with levels measured in other parts of New Jersey.

“The study confirmed the need to continue to work on improving air quality throughout the state,” Commissioner Martin said. “The supplemental study will help us continue to improve our scientific understanding of air pollution.”

In addition to monitoring for p-dichlorobenzene, the supplemental monitoring project will take a more focused look at the levels of the other chemicals in the Broadway neighborhood. The monitoring project will continue for a year.

As a result of the first study, the DEP has launched an effort to ensure enforcement of a state law prohibiting idling of vehicles for more than three minutes at schools in Paterson. The pollutant that turned up most consistently in the earlier study was benzene, a chemical associated with vehicle emissions.

To read the Urban Community Air Toxics Monitoring Project report on Paterson City, visit



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Last Updated: April 30, 2010