Air pollution is a major concern in New York City, with measurements taken at approximately 100 locations throughout the city during each season. PlaceiLive recently mapped out the areas of the city with the best and worst air quality, using data collected by BreezoMeter. Air Quality Index (AQI) is used to measure air quality, and is based on local air quality standards and concentrations of pollutants. New York City's buildings are disproportionately responsible for air pollution, generating twice as much NOx pollution as light passenger vehicles and seven times more than power plants. The 20th century saw a major industrial expansion in the area, including the opening of the New York City produce market in 1967 and the Hunts Point meat market in 1974. This has led to an increase in emissions, and a campaign by New York advocates to electrify new buildings and eliminate renovations has been proposed to help mitigate the negative health and air quality impacts associated with burning fuel in buildings. New York's public transportation network is one of the most sustainable compared to other larger cities in the country and helps the city avoid 19 million metric tons of emissions per year.
However, any delay in requiring new all-electric buildings will only mean more expensive renovations and an ongoing impact on the health of New Yorkers in the future. The racial and ethnic disparity in exposure to PM2.5 highlights the need to safeguard the health of marginalized communities in New York City and further highlights the need to move towards fully electric buildings in the city. In recent years, the New York metropolitan area has fallen to 36th in annual particulate pollution on the American Lung Association's “Air State” list of cities, and New York is also the country with the worst NOx emission rate from residential and commercial buildings. The climate imperative, air pollution and health impacts clearly justify the electrification of New York City's housing stock. By eliminating additional emissions, a new all-electric construction mandate, such as the one proposed for New York City, would help reduce air pollution levels and improve public health. The switch to all-electric buildings can contribute to a cleaner, healthier and more equitable city.