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Issue of the Week
 
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Air Pollution

THE LOWDOWN:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, New York City has some of the worst air in the country. New Yorkers poor New Yorkers especially have some of the highest rates of asthma and other lung disorders. It may not be direct cause and effect, but links are obvious. The culprits are numerous and diffuse. High-particulate emissions, most notably by cars, trucks and diesel fuel are a large part of the problem. Power plants, particularly the old "dirty" ones, are also to blame. Though some of sources of air pollution originate beyond the City and beyond even the state's borders, there is much to be done from home.

THE PROBLEM:

Rich Kassel - Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, declares war on dirty diesel. Diesel exhausts, says Kassel, constitute the Number One NYC Air Pollution Problem.

Omar Freilla - Explains why air quality is an environmental justice issue: too many diesel depots sited in minority communities and not enough transit stops.

Environmental Defense Fund - Report card on quality in New York State. Enter your zip code to find out about risks in your county.

THE REGULATORS:

Environmental Protection Agency, Region II - Info on all of Region II's air programs. Also included: full text of state and federal regs, and a very helpful Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act.

EPA Office of Air Quality and Standards - For some hard-core numbers, have a look at the NYS nonattainment areas for various measures of air quality The numbers may be confusing, but the "severe" classification for NYC and all its surrounding counties sends a clear message. Also recommended: real-time air pollution data. Track the soot!

EPA Office of Air and Radiation - Describes the six main air pollutants, their sources and their effects.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection - The local enviro bureau seems to care much more about water than air. Main point of interest? The company car is a Toyota RAV4 that runs on electricity. New York City government currently has the third largest fleet of electric cars in the nation a whopping 37.

THE ADVOCATES:

Natural Resources Defense Council - Everything you need to know about diesel buses. NRDC also has FAQs and tons of other information on air quality.

Environmental Advocates - Their report on dirty power plants in NYS was issued in conjunction with the American Lung Association. Findings are less than sanguine: emissions from New York's dirtiest power plants are on the rise . AN EPA report revealed a 21% increase in sulfur dioxide emissions, a 12% increase in nitrogen oxide, and a 16% increase in carbon dioxide from 1997 to 1998.

The American Lung Association - Offers extensive information, FAQs and fact sheets on everything from alternative fuels to wood burning stoves.

Bicycle Blueprint - The bike mavens at Transportation Alternatives aim to reduce air pollution by bringing biking into the NYC traffic mainstream.


Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation, the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation’s public education programs.  Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.