ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The findings of a first of its kind air quality study were released Monday afternoon at Albany’s South End neighborhood.
The results of the 15-month long study found truck pollutants on South Pearl Street at Ezra Prentice homes to be higher compared to the rest of the Albany South End community.
“Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership and an investment of $500,000 from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, DEC executed a first-of-its-kind study to protect public health in Albany’s South End neighborhood. By partnering with local residents, this study is providing a better understanding of air quality in this neighborhood and will help guide future initiatives to protect air quality in Environmental Justice communities across the State,” said Basil Seggos Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner.
The study evaluated pollutants, including benzene and diesel emissions, and collected details about particulate pollutants primarily associated with mobile sources in the Ezra Prentice community and further evaluated the vehicle types associated with higher emissions.
Particulate pollutants associated with mobile sources continue to be monitored at Ezra Prentice. As part of the study, middle and high school students from the Science and Technology Entry Program at the University of Albany collected air quality measurements with DEC scientists.
The study findings led the City of Albany to direct its Department of General Services to prohibit city vehicles from using South Pearl Street, except for when vehicles collect solid waste pickup and conduct street cleanings.
“New York is taking aggressive action to tackle air quality and other environmental health issues impacting residents across the state, and Albany’s South End is no exception,” Governor Cuomo said. “In the short term this innovative new study gives us the facts we need to implement new measures to reduce community exposure to truck pollutants, and in the long term it will serve as a model for other communities across the state as we advance our efforts to create a cleaner, greener New York for all.”
The State Department of Health conducted a Health Outcome Review to address health concerns in the community. The review focused on outcomes related to air pollution and evaluated emergency department and hospitalization data from 2005 through 2015. Rates of respiratory outcomes including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute bronchitis and asthma, as well as hypertension and diabetes, were higher in South End compared to the Arbor Hill/West Hill neighborhood.
While differences in the health outcome rates are suggestive of exposure differences between the two communities, they cannot prove cause and effect because individual-level risk factors were not taken into account. However, these results support taking action to reduce air pollution in the Ezra Prentice neighborhood.
“The South End Air Quality Study results include proactive next steps that will build upon the state, local, and community partnership that has led this process. I am confident that the community engagement that spurred the study will continue as these action items are implemented. The health and safety of our residents is paramount and I will continue to work ensure that the necessary protections are in place,” Assemblymember John McDonald said.