POLLUTION LOCATOR|Hazardous Air Pollutants|Report Descriptions

Hazardous Air Pollutant Report Descriptions

This report presents information about potential health risks from hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in your community. HAPs are chemicals which can cause adverse effects to human health or the environment. Congress has identified over 188 of these pollutants, including substances that cause cancer, neurological, respiratory, and reproductive effects. The report allows you to rank your community based on potential health risks, breaks down which pollutants and which sources contribute most to hazardous air pollution, and provides you with opportunities to take action. See Scorecard's overview of hazardous air pollution problems.

Data Source: Scorecard combines exposure data from U.S. EPA's National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment with toxicity data to estimate the health risks posed by chemical pollutants in ambient air.

NOTE: EPA exposure estimates, and the Scorecard risk estimates that are based on them, provide a screening-level assessment of hazardous air pollution problems and are subject to important caveats. EPA's exposure estimates are based on 1996 emissions data, although they are generally consistent with current air monitoring data. Scorecard's risk estimates are calculations based on models: they are useful for ranking purposes, but are not necessarily predictive of any actual individual's risk of getting cancer or other diseases.


Maps Characterizing Health Risks from Hazardous Air Pollution
Scorecard provides maps at the national, state, county, and census tract level that illustrate the level of estimated cancer and noncancer health risks from hazardous air pollution. Scorecard's national map depicts the states with the greatest number of people living in areas where the cancer risk from hazardous air pollutants is greater than 1 in 10,000. On state, county and census tract maps, you can see whether your home, workplace, or school is located in an area where estimated cancer risk is higher, comparable, or lower than in other communities.
More on Scorecard's mapper.

Ranking Areas by Health Risk
How does the added cancer risk from air pollution in your community compare to other communities across the U.S.? Scorecard provides a variety of ranking options for characterizing health risks from HAPs where you live. You can rank your state or county by the average individual's
added cancer risk or noncancer hazard index associated with hazardous air pollutant levels in your area. You can also rank your state or county by the number of people living in areas where estimated cancer risks from hazardous air pollution exceeds 1 in 10,000, or where the hazard index exceeds 10.

NOTE: The necessary data are available only for the "lower 48" states in the U.S. and only for counties in those states; i.e., not for Alaska or Hawaii.

For each of these health risk ranking criteria, you can specify whether you want to rank by hazardous air pollutants emitted from all sources combined, or from specific source categories (area, mobile, or point sources), or from subcategories of sources, like municipal waste combustors or refineries. More on rankings.

Environmental Justice Analysis
Inequities in environmental burden can be examined by identifying particular geographic areas and demographic groups that may be disparately affected by pollution.
More on environmental justice.

Cancer Risks and Noncancer Hazards
For every state, county, and census-tract in the U.S., Scorecard
estimates the cancer risks and noncancer hazards attributable to hazardous air pollutant exposures. Note that risk estimates are calculations based on models - they are useful for ranking purposes but are not necessarily predictive of any actual individual's risk of getting cancer or other diseases.

Cancer Risks from Hazardous Air Pollutants:

Scorecard calculates an average individual's added cancer risk due to hazardous air pollution levels in an area. Scorecard also identfies the size of the population living in areas where cancer risk exceeds 1 in 1,000 or 1 in 10,000. Predicted risks of this magnitude exceed the Clean Air Act's goal of reducing lifetime cancer risks from hazardous air pollutants to one in one million by a factor of 1,000 or 100. Scorecard identifies the hazardous air pollutant with the highest contribution to estimated risks and provides ranked lists of all contributing pollutants.

Noncancer Hazards from Hazardous Air Pollutants:

Scorecard also calculates an average individual's cumulative hazard index from exposure to hazardous air pollution. Scorecard identifies the size of the population living in areas where the hazard index exceeds 1, meaning people are exposed to levels of HAPs that may pose noncancer health risks such as neurological, respiratory, reproductive and developmental effects and other adverse effects on human health. Scorecard identifies the hazardous air pollutant with the highest contribution to estimated risks and provides ranked lists of all contributing pollutants.

Sources Contributing to Health Risks from Hazardous Air Pollutants
What is the largest source contributing to added cancer risk from hazardous air pollution in your community? The answer may surprise you. Mobile sources including both onroad vehicles (such as cars, trucks and buses) as well as offroad equipment (such as ships, airplanes, agricultural and construction equipment) contribute significantly to air pollution.
Diesel emissions are the predominant source of cancer risk in Scorecard's assessment of hazardous air pollutants.

For any state, county, or census tract, Scorecard estimates the proportion of added cancer risk and noncancer hazards that are attributable to area, mobile, and point sources. Scorecard also breaks down each individual pollutant's relative contribution to added cancer risk or noncancer hazards and provides the percentages of each pollutant that are emitted by point, area, and mobile sources, or attributable to background levels.

What We Don't Know About HAPs
It takes information to be able to figure out how safe or harmful any chemical exposure is, and that information is often not available to the public for many of the chemicals that are in the air your community is breathing. Information about a chemical's toxicity (known as risk assessment values) is needed before a risk assessment of chemical exposure can be performed. Scorecard describes how many hazardous air pollutants lack the risk assessment values or exposure data required to conduct a
safety assessment. To obtain a complete profile of the data available for a specific chemical, click on its name to obtain its chemical profile and review the section on Information Needed for Safety Assessment.

Take Action
If you are concerned about hazardous air pollution in your area, Environmental Defense encourages you to take action. Scorecard provides the opportunity to send an email message to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the governor of your state in support of efforts to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants and improve air quality.

Discussion Forum is the place to voice your views, ask questions, or give answers about local air pollution, polluters and pollutants. This forum is for discussions about any local sources of pollution that may concern you. Find out what people are saying about a company, or meet others working on environmental problems in your community.

Scorecard reports lead you to environmental volunteer opportunities in your community. The VolunteerMatch service lets you specify how far you want to travel and how often you want to offer your support. Scorecard also gives you a list of environmental organizations in your area that you can contact to work with on local pollution problems.

Links
Links to additional Scorecard reports on criteria air pollutants or chemical releases from manufacturing facilities can fill out the picture of which chemicals contribute to air quality conditions in your community. Where available, Scorecard also provides links to comparisons of EPA exposure estimates with current monitoring data on hazardous air pollutant concentrations.