Air quality

About Air quality

Air quality is a measure of the condition of the air around us. The less air pollution there is, the better the air quality.

Like many cities, New York City’s air contains particles, liquid droplets, gases, and other contaminants that could impact health. Two pollutants, particulate matter and ground-level ozone, are of particular health concern.

Although New York City’s air does not currently meet federal air quality standards, it has improved significantly over the past two decades.

Air Pollution and Health

Pollutants may affect human health negatively in a variety of ways. People may experience symptoms and health issues such as: 

  • Coughing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Worsening of asthma
  • Reduced lung function
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Low birthweight in newborns

Air pollution may affect anyone. Certain groups may be more vulnerable to health risks from poor air quality, such as:

  • Older adults (above 65 years)
  • Children
  • People with heart or lung conditions

To Reduce Health Risks

  • Keep track of your local Air Quality Index (AQI) if you or your child is sensitive to air pollution. Avoid strenuous activity or going outside on poor air quality days.
  • Reduce air pollutants by walking, biking, or using mass transit instead of a car, especially during rush hour.
  • Support policies that promote public transportation and energy conservation.

About Neighborhood Air Quality

Air quality can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. That is why the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) keeps track of street-level air pollution from about 100 locations throughout New York City every season. NYCCAS is part of OneNYC, New York City’s long-term plan for sustainability.

In NYC, health impacts from fine particulate matter, black carbon, and sulfur dioxide are higher in high-poverty neighborhoods.

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