Air Pollution Trap and Front Line Research - Air Mail! Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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This Month's Topics:

  • Public & Stakeholder Participation InformationAir Mail Stamp
  • On the Front Lines in Air Research
  • Temperature Inversions: Nature’s Air Pollution Traps
  • DECinfo Locator
  • Join the Team!
  • Dates to Remember
  • AQI Alerts for Respiratory Health

Public & Stakeholder Participation Information:

  • Part 222, Distributed Generation Sources - DEC is proposing to adopt a new 6 NYCRR Part 222, "Distributed Generation Sources" to replace the rule adopted on November 1, 2016. The new rule would apply to demand response and price-responsive generation sources located in the New York City metropolitan area as defined at 6 NYCRR Part 200.1(au). DEC will accept comments through November 25, 2019.
  • Part 219, Incinerators - DEC is proposing to repeal and replace 6 NYCRR Subpart 219-4 and sunset Subparts 219-5 and 219-6. The new Subpart 219-4 would apply to all human and animal crematories operating throughout the state. DEC is also proposing to add a new Subpart 219-10 to limit oxides of nitrogen emissions from municipal waste combustion units. Following adoption, Part 219 will be submitted to EPA as a revision to the State Implementation Plan for New York State.  Submit your comments through December 11, 2019.
  • Various projects in the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB).

Additional information and access to past announcements are on our Public & Stakeholder Participation Information page.

Air Mail! is the publication to announce public and stakeholder information about air quality topics. All New York State residents are environmental stakeholders – we welcome anyone to join the information sessions and other opportunities posted here.

On the Front Lines in Air Research

Air Albany South End videoIn the October episode of DEC’s On the Front Lines video series, Research Scientist Marilyn Wurth shows us how DEC conducted a year-long study investigating air quality complaints from Albany South End residents. In response to their concerns, DEC launched a community air quality study to investigate the sources of air pollution in the neighborhood.

Through the collective efforts of many individuals, from DEC's Division of Air Resources staff to community members and volunteers, DEC was able to provide this Environmental Justice community with important information to better understand air quality in their neighborhood. You can learn more about the Albany South End Air Quality Initiative, and read the final report on our website.  

‘On the Front Lines’ is posted monthly on DEC's YouTube channel and Facebook and Twitter pages. The series profiles staff and their work to protect the environment, conserve New York’s natural resources, and serve the public. Watch past episodes on DEC's YouTube channel.

Temperature Inversions: Nature’s Air Pollution Traps

Air pollution isn’t just a summer problem. Cool weather conditions can also contribute to poor air quality in the form of temperature inversions. Temperature inversions occur when a cool air mass is trapped close to the ground by a warmer air mass overhead. Essentially, they are like a warm air blanket covering and isolating a cool air bubble, most often occurring in a valley. Normally, the wind and rising air currents would blow away air pollution. Instead, temperature inversions trap pollution close to the ground, which concentrates it where people and animals are exposed to it.

Air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (PM) and wood smoke, mix together to create smog or smoke clouds close to the ground. Pollution like this is known to reduce visibility and can result in various negative health effects, like triggering asthma attacks.

We cannot control the weather patterns that lead to temperature inversions, but we can reduce our contribution to the air pollution that makes them so harmful. Reducing your use of fossil fuels at home and on the go helps improve air quality where you live and around the state. Remember to check the Air Quality Index before you go outside to decrease your exposure to air pollution and to keep you, your family and pets breathing easy.

 Air Temperature Inversion Alaska
Photo Caption: A view from a hilltop overlooking Fairbanks Alaska, showing emission plumes from two coal-fired power plants. The plumes, composed of steam, PM, and other gases, rise, then stop and fan off to the side when they reach the upper limit of the cool air mass within the temperature inversion covering the city.

Photo credit: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Fairbanks North Star Borough Air Quality staff member.

DECinfo Locator

Find out what’s in your neighborhood air with DECinfo Locator. This first-of-its-kind map makes it easier than ever to view and download information about air pollution sources and air monitoring stations across New York State. We are continuously improving DECinfo Locator, so check back frequently to see what’s new.  Learn more about its features on our website or from the DECinfo Locator Tutorial on YouTube.

Join the Team!

Looking for a job that has a positive impact on our environment? DEC offers numerous opportunities for qualified individuals looking to work in environmental fields and support the protection of the environment. Learn more about career opportunities in natural resource management and environmental protection with DEC on our website.

Dates to Remember:

  • November 16: The National Environmental Education Act was signed on this day in 1990 – Teach children about our environment to pass along a love of nature to the next generation.  Don’t know where to start? Check out the Conservationist for Kids magazine for some ideas. 
  • November 28: Thanksgiving – Compost your food waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.
  • December 5: World Soil Day – Soil plays a big role in air quality by filtering chemicals before they reach our air.
  • December 11: CERCLA of 1980, also known as “Superfund,” was enacted - A major environmental regulation that provides federal funding for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites.

Stay Informed about Your Air Quality

New York States’ ozone season runs from April through September. DEC publishes ground-level ozone forecasts during ozone season, and particulate matter pollution forecasts year-round using a scale called the Air Quality Index (AQI). DEC sends out an air quality alert when there is a high AQI value, which indicates polluted air. Individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions and people who exercise outdoors should take caution during an air quality alert. Find out if an air quality alert is in effect by calling the toll-free Ozone Hotline: 1-800-535-1345.

The AQI can be accessed in three ways:

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