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City Delays Release Of Air Quality Data For Rubbertown

Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District has delayed the release of air quality data for the neighborhoods surrounding Rubbertown, where many of the city’s industrial plants are located.

Current ambient air monitors measure pollutants including ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, but data from the new monitor will provide the first look since 2013 at a host of pollutants wafting in the air around West Louisville.

That's important because Rubbertown's industrial facilities release chemicals that can be harmful to human health; chemicals like 1,3 butadiene, a known carcinogen that's used in the production of synthetic rubber.

"People need to have disclosure of what they are breathing and in what concentrations," said Eboni Cochran of Rubbertown Emergency ACTion. "Because that determines what sort of action they are going to take for their own family and it also determines advocacy around reducing our exposure to air toxins."

The district planned to begin releasing the data publicly in the third quarter of this year, but Assistant Director Rachael Hamilton said it will delay the release until the end of the year.

“We are delayed a little bit only because we installed the equipment and then were somewhat delayed in bringing on an environmental chemist,” Hamilton said. “So we are still making sure that the equipment is operating as we anticipate and that we can demonstrate the data coming out is valid.”

The new monitor, called an automated gas chromatograph, can test for 65 different compounds and will help identify chemicals of concern for residents. It's located near the firearms training center on Algonquin Parkway.

The monitor is expected to cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and funded by the Air Pollution Control District, which monitors air quality and regulates industry for all of Jefferson County.

University of Louisville’s Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development ran the last air toxics monitoring program, but that stalled in 2013 because of a lack of funding.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.