First-of-Its-Kind Air Quality Study Evaluates Air Pollutants and Likely Emission Sources to Protect Public Health
$500,000 Investment from State's Environmental Protection Fund Supports Critical Research to Safeguard Environmental Justice Community
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of a year-long air quality monitoring program in Albany's South End. The Albany South End Air Quality Study will utilize cutting edge equipment to provide a comprehensive picture of air pollutant levels and identify sources of emissions. The Department of Environmental Conservation designed the Study with input and involvement from community residents.
"This study will help protect the public health and safety of the community and support our efforts to ensure environmental justice for all New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "This is one more step toward a cleaner, greener New York for all."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Through Governor Cuomo's leadership and investment of $500,000 to monitor air quality in Albany's South End, DEC is focusing our efforts to protecting public health, particularly in our environmental justice communities. By partnering with local residents, this first of its kind study in New York will provide a better understanding air quality in these neighborhoods, and guide future initiatives to protect the air in these communities and across the state."
The study will evaluate air pollutants including benzene and diesel emissions, and collect unprecedented levels of detail about particulate pollutants primarily associated with mobile sources in the community and help to identify sources of emissions. The study is utilizing cutting edge equipment, including a fixed monitoring shelter that houses instruments to measure particulate matter, gaseous chemicals, and wind speed and direction 24 hours a day for a full year. The monitoring study also includes an intensive network of samplers for benzene, and street-by-street sampling for diesel emissions using portable monitoring equipment.
Community members are an integral part of this study and will be helping conduct portable air monitoring throughout the area. Earlier this month, middle and high school students from the Science and Technology Entry Program conducted air quality measurements with DEC scientists. The Science and Technology Entry Program is a University at Albany program to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students pursuing Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics careers. In addition, DEC hosted an art day at Albany Public Library to inspire local youth to create original images of the environment which have been added to the new monitoring station.
In this year's State of the State, Governor Cuomo proposed $2 million for targeted air monitoring and mitigation in environmental justice communities. The Albany South End Air Quality Study will serve as a model for future studies and community collaborations.
The year-long study is in addition to DEC's previous efforts in the South End. DEC launched an air screening study in 2014, and air quality monitoring has included hydrogen sulfide monitoring and a network air toxics monitors in the community in 2015. DEC has also conducted increased vehicle and facility inspections in the community as part of its Operation Eco-Quality.
DEC will continue to update the community through the length of the study and is hosting community presentations on Monday, August 7, at 6pm at the Albany Charter High School, and on Wednesday, August 9, at 6pm at the Ezra Prentice Community Room.
Community residents that would like to volunteer or have questions can e-mail [email protected] or call 518-402-8508.
Senator Neil D. Breslin said, "The Albany South End Air Quality Study is a positive step towards environmental justice. I applaud Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Seggos, the DEC and the community residents for their involvement."
Assemblymember John T. McDonald III said, "Thank you to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos for demonstrating the State's commitment to protecting the South End community through the year-long air monitoring program. Most importantly, this monitoring program will address the concerns raised by the residents and directly responds to the issues raised in the numerous community discussions that have occurred. I look forward to a continued open line of communication between all of the stakeholders and will continue to work to ensure that environmental justice exists for Ezra Prentice and the South End community."
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy "The launch of this monitoring program is something I have long supported and called for as a way to protect the residents of the South End in Albany. I am pleased that the DEC is moving forward with the study in collaboration with the people most affected. We have to make sure that people are not adversely impacted by the ongoing train traffic in the area."
City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "Over the past three years, I have worked with Council Members Dorcey Applyrs and Vivian Kornegay, as well as with community members, to identify solutions that will improve the health and well-being of the residents of Albany's South End. This air quality study is the next step in addressing important quality of life issues for those living in effected neighborhoods. We welcome this innovative effort by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and look forward to the results."