Contaminated equipment blamed for toluene readings in Sydney
Letter to editor from Frank Potter
As director of Sydney operations for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, I would like to clarify a few points arising from an October 7 article published in the Cape Breton Post headlined, "Air monitoring at sites now responsibility of Enviromnent Canada."
First, rigorous testing has
confirmed that toluene is not
present in unusual quantities
in the air over Sydney.
This testing shows conclusively
that the intermittent
high readings of toluene which
appeared this summer on some
air monitoring equipment
resulted from equipment containination.
Sample contamination is not unusual in the highly refined tests required to detect volatile compounds like toluene, although in this case it has been difficult to identify the source. Third, rather than wait to pin down the source of the recent toluene contamination we have asked Environment Canada to assist with part of the air monitoring program on an interim basis. Environment Canada will supply canisters and carry out lab analysis required to test for the specific group of chemicals to which toluene belongs.
We have asked Environment Canada to do this work because it operates one of North America's premier labs for measuring the very low detection limits established for our air monitoring program.
This cautious approach reflects our determination to ensure the integrity of our extensive air monitoring program. We maintain six fixed monitoritig stations throughout Sydney, supplemented by a variety of portable air monitoring devices.
We check for well over 100
distinct airborne chemicals.
Results of these tests are
regularly posted on the Internet
at Frank Potter, P. Eng.
Frank Potter, P. Eng.