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UI researchers find potentially toxic substance present in Chicago air
Date:9/29/2008

Although the industrial compounds known as polychlorinated biphenols or PCBs have been found in previous air samples collected in the city of Chicago, a University of Iowa researcher says that a new study of Chicago air sampled between November 2006 and November 2007 found PCB11, a byproduct of the manufacture of paint pigments and a potentially toxic substance, present throughout the city.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published report of PCB11 in ambient air," said Keri Hornbuckle, UI professor of civil and environmental engineering, in the Sept. 24 online issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The journal can be found at http://pubs.acs.org/journals/esthag/.

"This compound is ubiquitous in air throughout the city of Chicago," said Hornbuckle, who is also a researcher at the renowned Iowa research institute IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering.

"We do not know if there are any health concerns associated with this compound but there are very few published studies of its toxic properties," she said.

To conduct the test, UI researchers mounted air sample collection devices on platforms attached to the rear of two medical clinic vans provided by the Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation of Chicago (Comprehensive Care for Chicagoland's Children with Asthma). The samples were collected during the six to eight hours each day that the vans visited sites, primarily elementary schools, where the mobile clinics provide service to students and their families.

In all, researchers found PCB11 in 91 percent of the 184 samples collected.

Regarding the possible source of the substance, Hornbuckle and her UI colleagues Dingfei Hu and Andres Martinez reported, "The wide distribution of PCB11 in Chicago air is consistent with volatilization of this compound from painted surfaces although the actual source of PCB11 is unknown."

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Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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