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DEC announces next round of community air screen program to test local air quality

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Wed, Apr 19th 2017 07:25 pm

Program works with communities to collect air samples

The next round of statewide community air screen program is accepting applications, Department of Environment Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced on Wednesday. The program partners with community groups to conduct air quality surveillance. Applications to participate in the program will be accepted until May 19.

"DEC launched the community air screen program in 2012 and it is bolstering our work both by helping us better understand air quality concern in neighborhoods across the state and helping residents better understand the work we do," Seggos said. "The community air screen program is empowering environmentally conscious New Yorkers to get involved in improving the air quality in their communities."

The program enables local community groups and residents to take air samples in neighborhoods across the state to help identify and address local air quality concerns. DEC will analyze the samples for possible air pollutants.

Participants will use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved sampling equipment to collect air samples for an hour. This type of sampling provides a snapshot of the types of air toxics found in a community. DEC expects to partner with approximately 12 communities.

The locations for air sampling will be determined using information provided by community groups, local meteorological information, and location of industrial sources or high-traffic areas.

The community air screen program will focus on gaseous pollutants, including benzene, which is found in gasoline; perchloroethylene, which is used by some dry cleaning facilities; and formaldehyde, which is released from fossil fuel-burning engines and also formed in the atmosphere in the presence of volatile organic compounds and sunlight. If air toxics are detected at levels of concern, DEC will conduct additional testing. If further sampling confirms air quality concerns, DEC staff will then determine possible sources contributing to the pollution levels of concern and look at ways to reduce them. Additionally, a recommendation will be made for further evaluation through EPA's community-based air toxics program.

The EPA provided $20,000 to conduct the community air screen program.

Community groups and residents interested in participating in this program can obtain more information or an application online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/81629.html or call the DEC office at 518-402-8402. 

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