New York has dirtier air than nearly every city. It’s about to get worse

Manhattan skyline


Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer season. Nothing says “summer” like getting outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. That means New Yorkers will head to the beach to relax and soak up the sun.

Unfortunately, President Donald Trump is taking a sledgehammer to the Environmental Protection Agency and to important policies that help to clean up our air.

Although our skies are cleaner than they were 30 years ago, air pollution is still a major threat to our health in New York City. When our air is polluted, we have no choice but to breathe it. That increases our risk of serious health problems, including premature death, heart attacks, asthma, and respiratory illness.

According to a new report from Environment New York Research & Policy Center, people in the tri-state area experienced 92 days with elevated smog pollution and 168 days with elevated soot pollution in 2015. The area ranked a dismal 358th out of 403 U.S. cities for smog in 2015, and 350th for soot.

Those statistics do not even capture the full extent of the problem. Residents near local pollution hotspots face higher levels of pollution and greater health risks. For example, people who live near busy roads are more likely to develop lung cancer, and are at greater risk of death from stroke, lung disease and heart disease.

It’s not just soot and smog we need to worry about. Global warming pollution is a major part of the problem too. Warming is extending the smog season across more of the year, and driving up smog levels on hot days. Warming is also intensifying drought and making wildfires more frequent and intense, causing additional pollution that can travel hundreds of miles. All of this means it will be harder for us to enjoy our clean air this Memorial Day weekend, and summers to come.

Even one day with unhealthy air is too many. New York City can do better than this. It’s 2017. Instead of continuing to pollute the air, we can choose to have a much cleaner country, where the air is safe for everyone and where the climate is stable and capable of supporting healthy communities.

The good news this holiday weekend is we can generate all the power we need without causing air pollution. Instead of burning dangerous fuels like coal, oil and gas, we can choose clean energy resources like the wind and the sun. We’re already headed that way. For example, the United States now has enough solar panels to power 8.3 million homes.

Going back on the Clean Power Plan alone would annually lead to 3,600 additional premature deaths, 90,000 more asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 more missed work and school days by 2030 across the country.


Source: Crain’s New York Business

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