share   tweet 311




Toxic Air Pollutants

​Toxic air pollutants, also known as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)​, are chemical compounds that are known or suspected carcinogens and or mutagens. Emission of toxic pollutants into the ambient air present a serious threat to public health and the environment.

The reduction of air toxic emissions and the associated risks from all emission sources is the focus of Broward County's Urban Air Toxics Strategy.​​​

Public Health Effects

Prolonged exposure to air toxics pollutants at ample ambient air concentrations result in:​

Immunological problems
Neurological problems
Respiratory problems
Reproductive problems

Environmental Effects

Deposition of air toxics into soil, lakes, and streams affect ​ecological systems and eventually human health due to consumption of contaminated food. Accidental releases of air toxics into the ambient air in substantially potent quantities can be an immediate threat to human health.

What are Toxic Air Pollutants?
Toxic air pollutants fall into four categories:
  • Metals
  • Carbonyls
  • Semi-Volatile Compounds (SVCs)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
How are toxic air pollutants emitted?

Toxic air pollutants are emitted by natural events (forest fires, volcanoes) as well as from industrial and mobile sources. Many household items are also major contributors to air toxics in the ambient air, including paints, cleaning products, pesticides, and plastic foam products.

Many toxic compounds have well established carcinogenic thresholds, and are regulated by industry specific standards promulgated under the Clean Air Act Amendment (CAAA) of 1990​. However, these standards only apply to large industrial sources and do not address the vast number of small industry sources and mobile sources which also contribute substantially to air toxic emissions. 

Sampling and Analysis of Ambient Air Toxics in Broward County

The Air Program ​voluntarily collects and analyzes ambient air for twenty-seven toxic air pollutants, classified as VOCs, following the U.S. EPA Urban Air Toxics Monitoring Program (UATMP) 1-in-6 day schedule at its National CORE (NCORE) monitoring site.  

The Sampling Process
  1. Samples are collected by drawing ambient air at a continuous flow rate into an cleaned, evacuated, passivated stainless steel "Summa®" canister over the 24-hour sampling period. 
  2. Collected whole air samples are analyzed at the Broward County Air Toxics Laboratory using U.S. EPA Method TO-15​. This method uses a Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) system to separate, identify, and quantify VOCs, such as acrylonitrile, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, chloroform, 1,3-dichloropropene, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, and vinyl chloride. 
  3. Quality assured data is reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Lab Equipment

1. ATEC Canister Sampler – controls air sample collection over 24 hour period for VOC analysis.

Atec Sampler 

2. Canisters connected to the Analysis System - canisters store the air samples until they are ready to be analyzed.

Canisters connected to analysis system

3. Entech Preconcentrator – prepares air samples for gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis.

Entech Preconcentrator

4. Entech Canister Cleaning System, with canisters attached – uses nitrogen to completely eliminate any VOCs that may remain in the canister from previous sampling.

Entech Canisters