Newly released DEC test results show air meets federal standards
Air monitoring conducted on the west side of Buffalo, near the U.S. Peace Bridge Plaza, indicates that air quality in this area is consistent with levels in the city overall and meets federal standards, according to a study released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The study is the first phase of the Air Quality Study of the Impact of the Peace Bridge Plaza on the Surrounding Neighborhood, which will assess changes in air quality associated with the redesign of the Peace Bridge Plaza and access to I-190.
The study included collection of air data over a six-month period, from late August 2012 through mid-March. Following consultation with local community representatives, including the Clean Air Coalition, air monitoring sites were situated downwind of the plaza at a vacant lot on Busti Avenue and the intersection of Vermont Street, and at the southwest corner of Front Park, which is downwind of I-190 and upwind of the Peace Bridge Plaza.
"Results from this phase of testing indicate that mobile source emissions from the Peace Bridge Plaza are not impacting overall air quality significantly," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "DEC will be conducting additional monitoring after renovations to the Peace Bridge Plaza to evaluate any impacts on air quality associated with this project."
State Sen. Mark Grisanti said, "I am pleased that air testing has shown no significant air quality concerns in communities near the Peace Bridge Plaza. This is an important project for Western New York, and it is vital that the state continue to work with local residents to address their concerns and ensure it is beneficial for all of Western New York."
State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "I commend the DEC for working with the community on this project to ensure the Peace Bridge maintains the environmental standards that Western New Yorkers expect and deserve. With continued improvements scheduled for the plaza to speed up traffic and reduce idling, Gov. Cuomo and his administration are taking action to mitigate environmental concerns in surrounding neighborhoods and improve predictability at our border. I'm proud to be a part of these ongoing efforts, and I look forward to continuing our work with the DEC and local residents to protect and improve air quality for all Buffalo neighborhoods."
The continuous 24-hour monitoring at both sites measured levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon, a subset of PM 2.5 that is a byproduct of combustion often associated with combustion of diesel and other fuels. The results show that average levels of PM 2.5 from upwind and downwind sources are similar, which indicates the plaza is not a significant source of PM 2.5 in the surrounding neighborhood. The monitoring did show a small increase in black carbon at the downwind site, as compared to the upwind site, during high traffic periods on the Peace Bridge in the afternoon.
The PM 2.5 levels at the two monitoring sites were consistent with levels at other, permanent air monitors in Buffalo, and all measurements were well below federal health-based air quality standards for PM2.5. Overall, the data suggest there are no significant differences between air quality in the plaza neighborhood and in the City of Buffalo overall.
The second phase of the air quality impact study will be conducted after the plaza redesign projects have been completed.
A copy of the Phase I report, including a version in Spanish, can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/83984.html.