Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Joe Martens and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Nirav R. Shah issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for the New York City metro region and the Lower Hudson Valley regions for Friday, May 31, 2013 and Saturday, June 1 2013.
Both departments are concerned with the levels of the pollutant, Ozone. The pollutant is expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 100.
New Yorkers are being urged to reduce any strenuous outdoor activity. Also, people who suffer from any respiratory illnesses are strongly urged to reduce their outdoor activities and if possible to stay inside.
High temperatures along with car exhaust can form of ground-level ozone which is a major component of smog. In the city Ozone levels generally decrease at night . The DEC and the DOH urges New yorkers to take other energy saving pollution-reducing precautions such as:
Using mass transportation
Using fans to circulate air and making sure windows and blinds are closed when air conditioners are running.
Limit the use of household appliances like dish washers, washers and dryers.
The pollutant Ozone is not to be confused with the Protective Ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere . Ozone along with other pollutants such as fine particles, element carbon and nitric oxide are common in NYC. According to the 2009 NYC Community Air Survey, these along with other pollutants reach high levels during the summer in areas with heavy traffic concentration and clusters of tall buildings. “Concentrations of PM, EC, NO and NO occurred in areas of heavy traffic concentrations including part of Manhattan (such as midtown and downtown) and the sections of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that run along busy freeways.”
Though these pollutants can have harmful affects in all parts of the city, they tend to be exacerbate when combined with other air pollutants. This is a common case in areas like the Bronx according to a study on air pollution in the Bronx done by the department of Environmental, Geographic, and Geological Sciences at Lehman College . High levels of pollutants have increased statistics for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in the Bronx. In the Bronx there are numerous waste transfer stations, express ways and junk treatment plants all of which contribute extremely high levels of on ground pollutants.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bronx is one of ten counties that exceed current federal air quality standards for fine-particle pollution. According to the DOH the asthma related hospitalizations rates in the Bronx are 70 percent higher than the rest of the city.
For the rest of the city, major on ground pollutants may also be attributed to things like oil burning boilers used in commercial and residential building. Boilers are a major source of pollution for New Yorkers during the winter time and midtown Manhattan has the highest levels during the winter.
Since the 2005, city officials and health departments have been creating new initiatives to help reduce the amount of pollution. These include replacing city-operated motor vehicles fuel to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel as well as monitoring the air quality in the five boroughs and reporting the forecasts to the public. These initiatives have produced some results but the city still has a long way to go to improve the air quality.