Health Department Releases Report on Improvements in Citywide Air Quality

The report covers nine years of data from the largest urban air monitoring program of any U.S. city

Average levels of fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide declined between 2009 and 2017

April 30, 2019 — The Health Department today released the latest New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) report, which describes continuing improvements in air quality citywide and is now available in an interactive online format. The report summarizes nine years of data of the largest ongoing urban air monitoring program of any U.S. city. It describes seasonal trends in air pollution levels from winter 2008-2009 through fall 2017 and highlights sources that contribute to high levels of pollutants in New York City neighborhoods. Maps displaying neighborhood air pollution levels by year are also included online.

“The latest community air survey shows significant improvements over the past nine years in the city’s air, which means better health for New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “We still have more work to do to ensure that all New Yorkers can breathe the same clean air; Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC is bringing us closer to that goal.”

“Clean air is a right, not a privilege,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “We’re going to keep fighting to protect and improve air quality, because every single person in New York City deserves clean and healthy air.”

“Dramatic improvements in air quality across New York City are a clear public health success,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director. “With OneNYC 2050, New York City’s Green New Deal, we will go further by pursuing more stringent emissions regulations, achieving carbon neutrality and 100% clean electricity, and greening the city’s buildings as we work to end our reliance on fossil fuels.”

“We all breathe the same air and under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership New York City is delivering on our commitment to be a leader in sustainability and environmental justice,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “The use of heavy home heating oil was one of the most serious contributors to air pollution in New York City, but we worked with stakeholders and developed sensible regulations that helped 5,300 buildings switch to a cleaner fuel, contributing to significantly healthier air for all New Yorkers, especially those in northern Manhattan, the south Bronx and northern Queens.”

"It’s encouraging news that the Health Department’s latest Community Air Survey documents continuing improvements in New York City’s overall air quality, though it shows in stark terms that we need to do more to improve air quality,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “With unhealthy levels of air pollution continuing to be recorded in many city neighborhoods – including throughout almost all of the district that I represent – the Survey highlights the critical need to continue advancing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning to more efficient vehicles, reducing dependency on cars and trucks, decreasing the use of ‘dirty fuel’ in buildings, and other measures.”

NYC Community Air Survey Findings Between 2009 and 2017

  • Annual average levels of fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide and black carbon have declined 30%, 26%, 44% and 30%, respectively.
  • The largest declines have been observed for sulfur dioxide, due largely to city and state heating oil regulations – wintertime average levels have declined by 96%.
  • Summertime average ozone levels have remained stable.
  • High levels of fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and nitric oxide – pollutants that exacerbate heart and respiratory disease – continue to be observed in areas of high traffic density, building density, and industrial areas.
orange map of the annual average of fine particles in NYC in 2009

More data on local air quality and other health issues related to the environment can be found at the New York City Environment and Health Data Portal.

About the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) and OneNYC
The Health Department conducts NYCCAS with Queens College of the City University of New York to evaluate how air quality differs across New York City. Air pollution measurements are taken each season with monitors mounted at street level at about 100 locations throughout the five boroughs. Visit New York City Community Air Survey for more information.

The de Blasio administration, through the Health Department’s NYCCAS and its OneNYC plan, is prioritizing the reduction of emissions and air quality improvement citywide.

About OneNYC: New York City’s Green New Deal
OneNYC 2050 is a strategy to prepare New York City for the future. The OneNYC 2050 strategy reflects the core strengths of New York City — a growing, diverse population, a strong economy, and global leadership — as well as our significant challenges: rising unaffordability, economic insecurity, stubborn health and wealth inequities, and the existential threats posed by climate change, decaying infrastructure, and rising global intolerance. OneNYC 2050 outlines bold actions New York City will take to overcome these challenges and create a strong and fair future for all New Yorkers, including efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve air quality in neighborhoods throughout New York City.



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