What Is It?
Toxic air pollutants, sometimes called air toxics, are chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Some toxic air pollutants also cause health effects in animals, or damage to plants. The EPA maintains a list of 187 of these compounds and works at a national level and with states to ensure that air toxics remain at healthy levels. Examples of air toxics include benzene, which is found in gasoline; or perchloroethylene, which is used by some dry cleaners. Other chemicals like asbestos, solvents like toluene, and some metals such as mercury and lead are also on the list.
What Are the Health Impacts?
People exposed to toxic air pollutants at high enough levels and for long enough may have an increased chance of getting cancer or experiencing other serious health effects. These health effects can include damage to the immune system, as well as neurological, reproductive, developmental, respiratory and other health problems.
What Are the Sources?
Air toxics can come from a variety of sources, including cars and trucks, power plants and industrial processes, and indoor sources like some building materials and cleaning solvents. Some air toxics are also released from natural sources such as volcanoes and forest fires. Most Americans’ main exposure to air toxics is from indoor sources.
Want more information about air toxics? http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/allabout.html
Want the most recent TCEQ report on air toxics levels in Houston? http://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/implementation/tox/monitoring/evaluation/2011/reg_12_houston.pdf