New Yorkers can breathe easy. The city’s air quality is the cleanest it has been in fifty years.
While speaking at a Climate Week NYC event yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the city’s sulfur dioxide levels have decreased by 69% since 2008 and soot pollution has dropped 23% since 2007. This data is based on the results of a New York City Community Air Survey, which monitored air quality at one hundred locations across the five boroughs.
This impressive reduction is largely attributed to the Clean Heat Program, part of the larger PlaNYC initiative for an environmentally sound city. The program encourages building owners to phase out the use of heavy heating oils that pollute the air. Over the past three years, according to the mayor’s office, approximately 2,700 buildings have converted to cleaner fuels. Following regulations established in 2011, the use of dirty heating oils in NYC will be illegal by 2030.
Since air pollution is known to aggravate cardiovascular and lung diseases, public health officials estimate that the cleaner air is preventing 800 deaths and more than 2,000 emergency room visits each year.