A new report from Environment New York — Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011 — shows that New York City is among the 20 most smoggiest large urban areas in America for 2011.
According to the report New Yorkers were exposed to smog levels that exceeded the national health standard for 14 days in 2010. The effects of smog greatly affect the breathing capabilities of children, seniors and those suffering from asthma. In 2011 that number for a very broad urban area almost doubled to 27 days. The research goes on to state that there were an additional 14 days in 2010 that put city residents at risk because of outdated federal air quality rules.
“New Yorkers deserve clean air. But on far too many days, people in the New York City and Long Island (also on the list) areas are exposed to dangerous smog pollution,” said Eric Whalen, Environment New York’s Field Organizer. “For the sake of our children, we must make every day a safe day to breathe.”
Smog is most pervasive in the summer months when warmer temperatures lead to higher concentrations of smog pollution.
Dr. Paul Ehrlich, incoming president of the New York Allergy and Asthma Society commented on the impact of smog pollution, saying “A poor respiratory environment for children may lead to recurrent infections, loss of school days and hospitalization.”
Top 10 Offenders (Large Urban Areas/Smog Days)
- Los Angeles 85
- Atlanta 34
- Fresno 28
- Washington/Baltimore 28
- New York/Newark/Bridgeport 27
- Sacramento 23
- St. Louis 23
- Charlotte 21
- Cincinnati 20
- Dallas-Fort Worth 19
The Environmental Protection Agency sets the threshold for smog pollution according to the latest science on air quality and public health. However, the current standard was set at a level that EPA’s own board of independent scientists agree does not adequately protect public health.
The Obama administration considered updating the standard this year but the president decided earlier in September to defer implementation until 2013.
“New York City has some of the country’s highest asthma-related hospitalization and mortality rates among children and young adults — with African American and Latino patients accounting for more than 80 percent of the cases,” said Peggy Shepard, executive director of West Harlem Environmental Action. “State and federal governments should accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy.”
Environment New York called on the president to protect the health of New York’s children and seniors, and to establish an updated standard for smog pollution that is based on science. A strong standard could save up to 12,000 lives and prevent up to 58,000 asthma attacks each year.