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Monitoring intraurban spatial patterns of multiple combustion air pollutants in New York City: Design and implementation

Abstract

Routine air monitoring provides data to assess urban scale temporal variation in pollution concentrations in relation to regulatory standards, but is not well suited to characterizing intraurban spatial variation in pollutant concentrations from local sources. To address these limitations and inform local control strategies, New York City developed a program to track spatial patterns of multiple air pollutants in each season of the year. Monitor locations include 150 distributed street-level sites chosen to represent a range of traffic, land-use and other characteristics. Integrated samples are collected at each distributed site for one 2-week session each season and in every 2-week period at five reference locations to track city-wide temporal variation. Pollutants sampled include PM2.5 and constituents, nitrogen oxides, black carbon, ozone (summer only) and sulfur dioxide (winter only). During the first full year of monitoring more than 95% of designed samples were completed. Agreement between colocated samples was good (absolute mean % difference 3.2–8.9%). Street-level pollutant concentrations spanned a much greater range than did concentrations at regulatory monitors, especially for oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide. Monitoring to characterize intraurban spatial gradients in ambient pollution usefully complements regulatory monitoring data to inform local air quality management.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Michael Brauer, Michael Jerrett, Jonathan Levy, George Thurston, Andrew Darrell, Patrick Kinney and Lance Waller for comments and suggestions made the initial goals and design of the NYCCAS program. We thank Alyssa Benson, Andres Camacho, Jordan Werbe-Fuentes, Jonah Haviland-Markowitz, Rolando Munoz and Anna Tilles for their dedicated field work as well as J. Bryan Jacobson and Hollie Kitson for assistance with data management and analysis. We also thank Carter Strickland and Kizzy Charles-Guzman for their input on public dissemination of NYCCAS results. Janice Kim, Bart Ostro and Michael Jerrett generously made available data from prior studies to inform the NYCCAS sample size evaluation. This work was supported entirely by City of New York tax levy funds.

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Correspondence to Thomas D Matte.

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Matte, T., Ross, Z., Kheirbek, I. et al. Monitoring intraurban spatial patterns of multiple combustion air pollutants in New York City: Design and implementation. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 23, 223–231 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2012.126

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2012.126

Keywords

  • urban air pollution
  • fine particles (PM2.5) nitrogen oxides
  • sulfur dioxide
  • ozone
  • spatial variability

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