New Stats Show NYC Continues to Clear the Air

Data from the largest urban air monitoring program of any U.S. city show annual average levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) have declined 40%, 38% and 58%, respectively since 2009.

April 21, 2023 — The Health Department today released the latest New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) report, which shows sustained improvements in air quality citywide. The report summarizes thirteen years of data for 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 2021 and highlights sources that contribute to high levels of pollutants in New York City neighborhoods. NYCCAS data collection and analysis provide insight into which city policies would lead to the greatest public health benefit. Maps displaying neighborhood air pollution levels by year are also available online.

“Our health, our city’s health, and the health of our planet, are intimately connected and affected, especially through the air we breathe” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Climate change is a public health issue, and cleaner air to breathe is an important building block for healthier people, healthier communities, and a healthier city. The progress of recent years is heartening, and we look forward to our future work with agency partners that will continue to make New York the biggest city with the cleanest air in the world.”

“By phasing out the use of dirty home heating oil, transitioning more buildings and vehicles to electricity, mining waste streams for renewable energy and cracking down on trucks that idle on our streets, New York City has made tremendous progress in improving the quality of the air we all share,” said NYC Chief Climate Officer and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Moving forward, as we implement Local Law 97 and substantially reduce emissions from our largest source of greenhouse gases, our buildings, we will also focus on those areas of the city that need further air quality improvements.”

Air quality in New York City improved significantly following local regulations that required building owners to convert to cleaner heating oils. Recent City Air Code updates have also created a framework to collaboratively start addressing commercial charbroiling and grilling operations, which have become a more important source of PM2.5 emissions. In addition, the City’s sustainability plan, PlaNYC, and its roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 80x50 (PDF), have already and will continue to improve air quality, providing important public health benefits to all New Yorkers.

High levels of fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and nitric oxide can exacerbate heart and respiratory disease. The survey found that, between 2009 and 2021, annual average levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide have declined 40%, 38% and 58%, respectively.

However, the concentrations of NO2, NO and PM2.5 continue to be higher in industrial zones with more diesel truck traffic and warehouses, neighborhoods with large numbers of restaurants, and areas of higher traffic and building density.

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

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. Learn more about NYCCAS.

The Health Department prioritizes the reduction of emissions and air quality improvement citywide.



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