In response to the story headlined Activists air tests uncover compounds, (Herald, Nov. 7), I am pleased to inform the San Juan Citizens Alliance, as well as other interested members of the public, that as part of its extensive air quality monitoring activities, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Air Quality Program has participated in efforts to test for volatile organic compounds in the area.
In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency selected Sunnyside Elementary School near Bondad to participate in the School Air Toxics Ambient Monitoring Program, which involved monitoring the outdoor air around schools for pollutants to determine the presence of toxins that could affect schoolchildren. The tribes Air Quality Program was the local agency responsible for installing and operating the monitors at the school, which focused on volatile organic compounds over a three-month period.
Air samples were collected using EPA-approved methods and were analyzed by the EPA National Monitoring Programs contract laboratory. The monitoring results are available at www.epa.gov/schoolair/schools.html.
The tribes Air Quality Program presented the results at the January 2010 Southern Ute Indian Tribe-State of Colorado Environmental Commission meeting. The results of the study indicate that 19 of the 37 compounds analyzed for were detected but at levels well below the EPA screening criteria.
In addition to its participation in the School Air Toxics program, the tribe maintains two permanent air quality monitoring stations, Ute 1 and Ute 3, located in Ignacio and near Bondad, respectively. Ute 1 monitors ambient concentrations of ozone, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and PM2.5 or fine particle pollution. Ute 3 monitors ambient concentrations of ozone, oxides of nitrogen and visibility. All data is available to the public at EPAs Air Quality System database: www.epa.gov/ttn/airs/airsaqs.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe encourages interested residents to attend and participate in the Environmental Commission meetings, which are advertised in the Herald and open to the public. The meetings are a great opportunity to learn about the tribes air quality activities, as well as the development of air quality regulations for the reservation.
Matthew J. Box, chairman, Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, Ignacio