New York City Rolls Out Comprehensive Air Quality Monitoring Program

Thanks to a new program, New Yorkers will now have yet another way to compare the relative prestige of where they live within the city: air quality. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently initiated what will be the city’s most comprehensive air quality monitoring effort to date.

Rather than monitor air quality from the tops of buildings as the state’s Department of Environmental Quality has done for some time at 25 locations, the new “NYC Community Air Survey” program has placed 150 monitoring units at street level.

The units have been both randomly and strategically placed on light poles in key areas within the city’s five boroughs. They will produce data that will help determine how air quality varies throughout the city where it matters most– the places where we breathe.

The Air Survey is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s quest to help New York have the best air quality of any major U.S. city. The stations have already started collecting data about the levels of various pollutants in the air, such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

Air quality has a strong relationship to human health, and problems such as asthma have become common in some of New York City’s more heavily polluted areas. For this reason, an effort was made to place some monitoring stations near bus stations, ferry terminals, high traffic intersections, and also near areas that are less likely to be as polluted that will provide good points of comparison, such as parks.

The Air Survey program plans to publish its first report in the later part of this year. I’m sure New Yorkers will be eager to hear the results– and put the data and findings to good use. For an FAQ on the program, click here.

Photo Credit: wilhelmja on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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