Written By: Emma Websdale
Speaking as part of New York City’s Climate Week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that improvements in the city’s air quality has made it the cleanest in 50 years, preventing nearly 800 deaths and 2,000 hospitalizations annually.
Data from the New York City’s Community Air Survey, which measured street level air pollution at 150 locations from 2008 to 2010 and at 100 locations from 2010 to 2013, found that sulphur dioxide levels have dropped by 69% since 2008. The level of soot pollution has also reduced by 23% since 2007.
Officials estimate the decrease in pollution has annually prevented 800 deaths and 2,000 hospitalizations from the related impacts of sulphur dioxide and soot pollution on asthma, heart and lung disease.
One of the main contributors to NYC’s cleaner air is that of the NYC Clean Heat Program. The program, which requires buildings to convert from heating oil to cleaner natural gas, has resulted in 2,700 buildings already converted to cleaner fuels since 2011, and an additional 2, 500 actively pursuing conversions.
“Air pollution poses a major threat to the health of all New Yorkers, but especially young children, seniors and those with chronic heart and lung disease”, said Health Commissioner Dr Thomas Farley.
“Switching to cleaner heating fuels is contributing to dramatic improvements in the air quality of New York City and will help all of us stay healthier.”
Coinciding with the release of the Fifth IPCC Assessment report and Lord Stern’s warning that without radical ‘carbon budget’ policies, our carbon budget could be exhausted within the next 15 to 25 years, Bloomberg’s announcement demonstrates how cities are becoming more focused on tackling climate change.
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