FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2020
The City of Kingston Announces Air Quality Initiative
KINGSTON, NY – The City of Kingston is pleased to announce a partnership with the Center for the Study of Land, Air and Water at Bard College, which will monitor the City’s air quality, and work to assure that every resident has access to clean air.
The City of Kingston’s Conservation Advisory Council’s Air Quality Sub-Committee has been working on air quality as part of their mission, and has partnered with Bard Collage to form the Kingston Air Quality Initiative (KAQI). The KAQI has been collecting data since January that will provide baseline information about Kingston’s air quality. Monitoring is being conducted by Kingston residents, students, staff, and faculty of the Bard Community Science Lab.
"Studies have shown that exposure to certain air pollutants can lead to serious health problems and we know that climate change is likely to exacerbate the connections between air quality and human health," said Mayor Noble. "Recent research has also shown that there is increased vulnerability to COVID-19 for those exposed to poor air quality. This is the first time we will have hard data to help us drive policy and/or operational decisions in the future in Kingston. This partnership is crucial to the public health crisis we are now facing, and also for future generations."
“We are excited to partner with our Hudson Valley neighbors in Kingston to address what is an international issue: access to clean air. It’s important to measure where we live, to ensure that all people, all neighborhoods, enjoy good, clean air. We know this is important given the mountains of research showing that bad air quality equals bad health outcomes, including increased vulnerability to COVID-19,” said Eli Dueker, Director of the Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water and Director and Associate Professor of Environmental and Urban Studies at Bard College. “Although Kingston’s air quality is for the most part doing well, we know that increased traffic, train activity, wood burning, and household heating systems can contribute to short-term air quality issues and long-term health issues if not appropriately managed. This research addresses what Kingston needs to be able to meet its sustainability goals long-term.”
“Kingston has recently seen a lot of development and new residents moving in. We want to be sure that we act thoughtfully and proactively in assuring that as this development occurs, we work toward protecting the health of all Kingstonians as well as the environment,” said Lorraine Farina, Chair of the City of Kingston’s Conservation Advisory Council’s Air Quality Sub-Committee. “We have been working with the Kingston Fire Department on enforcing the air pollution code, and on educating residents about the serious health and environmental effects of air pollution. Gathering data in collaboration with Bard College is a critical first step in making informed decisions and maintaining good air quality for all residents.”
KAQI’s initial monitoring efforts are focused on fine particulate matter, or PM2.5. Because these particles are less than 1/30th the diameter of a single human hair, PM2.5 can be inhaled and penetrated into the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, short-term effects of exposure can result in premature deaths, increased infant mortality, and increased severity of heart and asthma attacks. Longer-term effects include the development of asthma, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and increased susceptibility to respiratory conditions including COVID-19. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set the 24-hour PM2.5 standard at 35 micrograms per cubic meter, the World Health Organization states that PM2.5 affects human health at any level of exposure.
The data thus far indicate that Kingston is meeting 24-hour standards. The major outdoor sources of PM2.5 include vehicle exhaust and wood/oil burning. High spikes in the winter may indicate more fuel burning activity for heating purposes.
This partnership is being announced in time for the first annual Clean Air for Blue Skies Day on September 7, 2020, an initiative of the United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition that focuses on improving air quality to protect human health while addressing climate change. As a collaborative community science project, KAQI will be part of a larger international environmental monitoring effort through the Open Society University Network (OSUN) Community Science Coalition.
For more information and ways to get involved, please visit https://kingston-ny.gov/airquality.