Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

Photo: diesel exhaust/smoke from school buses in school loading zone.A Closer Look
at Air Toxics

In addition to criteria air pollutants, the Clean Air Agency increasingly is focusing efforts on reducing air toxics. Air toxics are a group of over 400 pollutants known or suspected to cause a number of health problems, including cancer and birth defects, as well as damage to lungs, and immune and nervous systems.

In our region, air toxics come primarily from particulate matter contained in diesel exhaust and smoke from burning wood. While air toxics do not have federal ambient air quality standards, our research indicates that they are present in our air at levels that pose a health risk to residents. That's why we integrate air toxics reductions into many of our programs, such as our award-winning Diesel Solutions program, and our efforts to curb wood smoke emissions.

For more information:

  • Fact sheet on air toxics (PDF 0.1MB)
    An overview of air toxics of greatest concern in our region, as well as actions the Clean Air Agency is taking to reduce air toxics.

  • 2010 Tacoma and Seattle Area Air Toxics Evaluation
    Through a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the University of Washington measured the concentrations of toxic air pollutants in Tacoma and Seattle and identified the chief contributors.

  • 2003 Puget Sound Air Toxics Evaluation (PDF 0.3MB)
    This technical report summarizes results of an air toxics study conducted by our agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology. The study includes results from six Seattle area air toxics monitors operated in 2001.

  • EPA National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment
    These documents summarize local results of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national air toxics assessment (NATA), which models air toxics levels and health risk on a national level.

  • 2009 Air Quality Data Summary
    An overview and analysis of air toxics data measured at the Seattle monitoring site in 2008. Includes a discussion of health effects and ranking of air toxics based on health risk.