Neighborhood air quality explorer
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We combine data from our air quality monitoring network, NYCCAS, with other data to understand what makes one neighborhood's air quality different from another's. We found that building emissions, building density, industrial areas, and traffic density are associated with changes in air quality.
We can predict air quality by understanding the neighborhood's characteristics. So, if we don't have an air quality monitor in one neighborhood, but we know its building density, its industrial area, and its traffic, then we can model (estimate or predict) its air quality - based on monitored air quality in similar neighborhoods.
What affects the air in
Building emissions affect your neighborhood's air quality. Like vehicles, buildings burn fuel: their boilers run on oil or gas to produce heat and hot water. These boilers emit pollutants that affect your neighborhood's air quality.
Building density is a key factor for air quality - since buildings emit pollutants, a neighborhood's building density can help predict its air quality. New York City's building density is a function of its population density - with over 26,000 people per square mile, it's is the densest American city.
The amount of industrial area in a neighborhood may affect its air quality in several ways. Manufacturing may emit pollutants, construction can kick up particulate matter, and increased truck traffic can lead to increased vehicular emissions.
Traffic density affects a neighborhood's air quality in a few ways. Combustion engines emit "tailpipe emissions" such as PM2.5, NOx and carbon monoxide (CO), while dust from wear to tires and from braking contribute additional particulate matter to the air.
Air quality in
PM2.5 (or fine particles) worsen lung and heart diseases and are linked to cancer and premature death. NYC meets the EPA's annual average standard (measured in micrograms per cubic meter, or μg/m3), but short-term concentrations sometimes exceed this threshold.
Nitrogen dioxide is linked to asthma hospitalizations and other respiratory conditions. NYC meets the EPA's annual standard (measured in parts per billion, or ppb), but short-term concentrations sometimes exceed this threshold.