Statement from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on air quality samples the agency took around the Richmond fire:

The Air District had inspectors at the scene of the August 6 Chevron fire, collecting air quality samples from the surrounding area. These were sent to the Air District’s lab at 6 a.m. this morning, and the results came in this afternoon.

The results of our lab analysis of air samples from the Chevron fire show levels of these potentially toxic pollutants to be well under their reference exposure levels or RELs, and not a significant health concern. These concentrations were similar to the “background” levels measured throughout the Bay Area by our monitoring network.

The Air District lab tested these air quality samples for a group of 23 compounds, most of which have been identified by the state of California as Toxic Air Contaminants. The Air District regularly tests and measures amounts of these compounds through its air monitoring network. These pollutants are organic compounds typically found in petroleum products.

The Air District also performed an additional analysis to identify and estimate concentrations of any other pollutants that might show up in significant amounts.

Reference Exposure Levels, or RELS, were developed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as public health measurements based on epidemiological evidence and sensitive populations. RELS are set at levels that could impact sensitive populations – children, the elderly, or those with pre-existing health issues or respiratory conditions.

Local air quality monitors also showed near normal concentrations of air pollution from the fire, with pollution levels significantly below federal health standards. Weather conditions were favorable at the time of the incident – surface winds were light and heat pushed the smoke upwards where stronger winds aloft helped to disperse it.

As part of the investigation, the Air District has reviewed air quality monitoring data from monitors at the Chevron facility. Chevron’s findings were consistent with the Air District’s.

Here is a list of the substances found in the air and their concentration levels.

BAAQMD Finds 23 ‘Potentially Toxic Pollutants’ in Air Around Chevron Fire, Says ‘Well Under Exposure Levels’ 7 August,2012Jon Brooks

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