Volatile Organics Data Summaries
Tables below are summaries of the data for all the sites. More detail is available in the yearly files available upon request from BAQS.
1990 -1998 The quarterly summaries consist of the monthly average, quarterly concentration range, and number of valid samples in the quarter listed. The minimum detection limit (MDL) for an average sample appears under the abbreviated chemical name. At the bottom of the page is the annual average and the actual or proposed annual guideline concentration (AGC). This gives the reader an overview of the site for all the chemicals monitored in the network.
1999- The annual summary lists the target compounds in the left hand column with the sites along the top. The MDL and AGC are the first and last data columns respectively. The percent data capture is listed for the 1999 startup year. This is to show which sites have enough data to evaluate as a true annual average.
The charts for several compounds of interest are stored in a separate file named toxchart.xls. The annual or shorter term average is illustrated by the bars with the AGC listed and/or drawn. Comparison of the data to AGC's for Lackawanna, Troy, and Eastern District H.S. should not be done, as these numbers are NOT ANNUAL AVERAGES for 1990. The same holds for several sites in 1999 and 2000. At the beginning of the data on page 17 are three cautionary notes that point out important information that should be kept in mind when interpreting this data.
The AGC's are presented along with the data for comparison. It is important to note that DEC's Air Guide 1, which defines the AGC's, states a number of caveats as to their use and accuracy. It must be strongly emphasized that the AGC's are guideline values only, developed for screening and toxicity ranking, and are not standards or absolute limits of acceptable risk. With these limitations in mind the AGC's are used here as a convenient way of relating the data to a scale of toxicity. This is necessary because compounds are known to vary widely in toxicity and reporting only the concentrations of chemicals without any information as to their relative toxicity would be meaningless. For more information on the development of the AGC's and their use the reader is referred to Airguide 1.
Of the nineteen compounds measured from 1990 to 1998, only four have significant annual average concentrations above their AGC at any site. Three of the compounds (carbon tetrachloride, 1,2 dichloroethane, and 1,1,2 trichloroethane) have AGC's that are less than the minimum detectable level (MDL) and have annual concentrations very close to the MDL. As indicated in note 2 at the beginning of the data summaries, the data for these three compounds is inconclusive because the true annual average is unknown and it is impossible to definitively say that the data is above or below the AGC. This data is shown in grey in the tables for 1990 to 1998 and was not graphed. For 1999 and 2000 the bold numbers are above the MDL and unbolded values are near the MDL. Values close to the MDL have much lower precision and each individual in this range could be plus or minus 100% of the listed value.
Benzene is the one compound that shows significant annual average concentrations above its AGC at all sites, indicating a ubiquitous source of this compound throughout the state. The principle source of benzene is automobile both from direct emissions and related gasoline storage and handling. The concentrations of benzene observed reflect the relative amounts of automobile traffic at the various sites. There are additional industrial sources of benzene at the Lackawanna site.
The amounts of benzene observed provide further incentives to make the reductions in automotive emissions proposed by the Department to comply with the ozone nonattainment provisions of the new Clean Air Act. Reductions in automotive emissions of volatile organic compounds through such programs as low emissions vehicles and improved inspection and maintenance should have an added benefit of reducing benzene concentrations in the ambient air.
Three other compounds exceed the AGC's significantly at specific sites. They are trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene at the Staten Island mall site and methylene chloride at the Merril St. site, near the Kodak industrial complex in Rochester. In the case of the Staten Island Mall site the source of these compounds has been determined to be the water pumped through the sewage pump station upon which the sampler is located. High levels of these compounds were measured inside the pump station as part of an effort to investigate the source of the concentrations measured in the ambient air. In the case of the Merril Street site, the methylene chloride measured is due to emissions from the Kodak facility which is undergoing an extensive remediation effort to address this problem. The New York Botanical Garden data shows higher than average levels of several compounds. The plant biolaboratory housed in the same building as the PAMS laboratory and canister sampler is believed to be the source of the emissions. This is discussed further in Note 1.
The experience with the network so far has indicated that, for most of the compounds measured, annual average concentrations are below the AGC's at most sites. With the exception of benzene, any annual concentrations above AGC's have been due to specific local sources of the compound in question.
The Staten Island Mall station (7097-07) was sited on a city sewage pumping station. This area was carefully studied once the data showed elevated levels of tetrachloroethylene. Initially it was believed that local dry cleaners were impacting the site. However, the regional staff performed a short-term study to sample the vent gas from the pumping station. At the conclusion of the study it was obvious that the chlorinated organics were off gassing from the sewage sump below ground in the pumping station. The chemicals found in elevated levels are chloroform, 1,1,1 trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene. This site was closed in 1994 and moved closer to the Fresh Kills landfill perimeter to become site 7097-08.
The Merril St. site (2701-21) is located in Kodak's parking lot near the film coating plant and was co-located with a monitoring site operated by Kodak to track emission reductions as their manufacturing upgrades are completed.
The Lackawana site (1402-14) is situated near the Bethlehem coking plant that recently completed controls on the product recovery process.
The New York Botanical Garden site (7094-06) is located in the Harding Laboratory. The plant material research requires plant extraction using common solvents that are vented from the safety hood operated in the individual research rooms. These exhausts are normally upwind of the air intake for the air sampling equipment. However, a few days of abnormal wind direction has resulted in a few high concentrations effecting the annual average.
Carbon Tetrachloride, 1,2 Dichloroethane, and 1,1,2 Trichloroethane must be viewed with special care. Other similar data are identified by the grey areas on the table. The MDL's are similar to or greater than ambient concentrations and greater than the AGC, therefore the data is not conclusive. When the annual average is at or near the MDL, this only means that the compound is seldom found, and more rigorous statistical calculations may be useful to discern an annual average. Please refer to Rao et al., "Analysis of Toxic Air Contaminant Data Containing Concentrations Below the Limit of Detection" for these procedures. The graphs of these compounds were not generated due to these concerns.
The analytical technique using stainless steel canisters compares very favorably with the previous method of carbon based adsorbent tubes. There is still a slight bias and the new method gives slightly higher concentrations for some compounds. This is important to remember when looking at the trends from year to year. The apparent increase from 1998 to 1999 should not be taken as air quality becoming worse. The method change is responsible for this bump in the trend. It is strongly believed that the new method is more accurate than the previous method for several reasons. The whole air trapping in the canister is more gentile with the sample , background subtraction has been eliminated and the cryogenic sample handling and analysis has improved the precision of the data significantly.
*Annual Guideline Concentration, see NYS Air Guide-1
Annual data summaries by site
Available annual data tables for each site can be viewed by clicking on the site name in the following table.
|Site Address||Abbrv.||Site #
|Start/End Date||Site Character||Location Codes
Simon and Ridge Rd.
|Niagara Falls CAM
|Whiteface Base Lodge
Summit Access Rd
228 East 57th St.
|NY Botanical Gardens
200th St. & So. Blvd.
800 Bushwick Ave.
14439 Gravett Rd.
681 Kelly, E156th
|Unloading Zone 2
310 West Service Rd.
|Fresh Kills West
|4/99-Present||Source Upwind||567,815.0253 E
|Fresh Kills East
|12/01-Present||Source Perimeter||570,337.2504 E
|4/02-Present||Source Neighborhood||571,804.5266 E
Annual Averages for all sites by year
The following table provides links to view (HTML) or to download (Excel spreadsheet) data for each year.
|1990||HTML||EXCEL (5 KB)|
|1991||HTML||EXCEL (5 KB)|
|1992||HTML||EXCEL (5 KB)|
|1993||HTML||EXCEL (5 KB)|
|1994||HTML||EXCEL (16 KB)|
|1995||HTML||EXCEL (19 KB)|
|1996||HTML||EXCEL (19 KB)|
|1997||HTML||EXCEL (18 KB)|
|1998||HTML||EXCEL (17 KB)|
|1990-2003||EXCEL (5.4MB Zipped)|
Bar charts of annual averages for all sites by analyte
The first series of charts below show annual averages from 1990 through 1998. Since the last update, monitoring at some sites were discontinued while other locations were added. The second series of charts below reflect these changes and show data through 2003.