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NYC air at cleanest level since monitoring began: Mayor

You don't need to hightail it out of the city for a breath of fresh air. New York City's air quality is improving, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
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Head outdoors and enjoy New York City's improving air quality. Photo: Ian Chen/ Flickr

Take a deep breath in New Yorkers: The city’s air is the cleanest it’s been since officials began monitoring its quality, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

In time for Earth Day this Sunday, the mayor announced the release of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's latest New York Community Air Survey.

Air quality in the city has been continuously improving, according to the report, showing progress toward de Blasio’s goal of achieving the “cleanest air of any large U.S. city by 2030.”

The city’s air is the cleanest ever since air quality monitoring began in 2008, the city said.

“Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, New Yorkers have not been able to breathe air this clean,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are making significant strides in reducing air pollution to help protect the health of everyone in our city. That said, there is still much more work to do to bring down pollution in some parts of the city, where it disproportionately affects already vulnerable communities.”

The survey monitors pollutants that can lead to health problems like heart and lung disease and often come from vehicles, boilers and building furnaces.

Those pollutants include fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide and black carbon. The average level of those pollutants, according to the findings, have dropped 28 percent, 27 percent, 35 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Areas that have high traffic density, a high concentration of buildings and industrial areas are still seeing a lot of these pollutants, though.

The biggest drop had to do with the wintertime average of sulfur dioxide, which decreased 95 percent in part, the department said, because of city and state heating oil regulations and New York City’s efforts to phase out residual heating oil.

“Clean air is one of the most important factors of public health and quality of life,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, in a statement.  “Transitioning to electric vehicles, throwing out less waste, and using less energy continue the work of making our air the cleanest it has been in half a century.”