East Siders inhale the city’s dirtiest air, according to a Health Department survey released yesterday.
A swath of pollution blankets Manhattan from the notoriously asthma-plagued East Harlem to the wealthy enclaves near Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Upper East Side townhouse to Lower East Side’s hipster hangouts.
The city’s worst pollution, not surprisingly, is in areas with the heaviest traffic and greatest concentration of buildings that burn oil. The data was compiled from 150 air monitors placed last winter.
“The east side of Manhattan has enormous pollution because they have a concentration of buildings,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said from the climate change conference in Copenhagen.
Some 9,000 buildings use very dirty fuels — No. 4 and No. 6 oils. An estimated 1.4 million apartment units use No. 2 heating oil, which is cleaner than those, but still has 650 times as much sulfur as the diesel fuel in buses and trucks.
Richard Kassel, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the city’s “near-term priority” should be replacing high-sulfur heating oil. “By reducing vehicle pollution and cleaning up old burners and boilers,” he said, “the city can make a huge difference in the quality of the air we breathe.”