Lab Analysis of Furnace Filters

Many of the environmental pollutants that are found in pet coke can also be found in a variety of other outdoor and indoor air sources. Two categories of pollutants that EPA is investigating in Southeast Chicago are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and toxic metals.


The most common sources of PAH pollutants are:
  • cigarette smoke
  • vehicle exhaust
  • home heating
  • laying tar
  • grilling meat
  • various industrial sources

For more information, see ATSDR's Public Health Statement for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).


Metal pollutants also have a variety of sources, including both industrial processes and routine residential activities. For example, burning fuel and cigarette smoking result in metal pollutants being released. You can read more about individual metals and their common sources in the Health Effects Notebook for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

On July 1, 2014, EPA staff retrieved used furnace filters from two residents who live in the Southeast Chicago neighborhood, near the KCBX properties. For comparison, EPA purchased two unused filters of the same brand on July 8, 2014. The filters were analyzed for PAHs and metals, using a laboratory method similar to the residential dust wipe samples.

EPA is still in the process of interpreting these complex results and potential links between the samples and specific sources in the Chicago community. A preliminary analysis of the furnace filter sample results does not confirm the presence of pet coke.

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