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Peace Bridge Air Studies

What is the study?

This study is a monitoring effort to determine whether the levels of air pollutants from motor vehicles are of public health concern in the residential neighborhood at the Peace Bridge. Air monitoring will be conducted for a full year to understand changes in pollutant concentrations during traffic congestion and from season-to-season. Another important aspect of the Study is the collection of data on ultrafine particles. Currently, there is no federal air quality standard for ultrafine particles. The results for ultrafine particles from this Study will be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for consideration in the development of a federal air quality standard.

How will the study be conducted?

The study will be conducted for one full year - September 2014 to September 2015 - at two sites, both within residential neighborhoods. One site is located downwind and close to the Peace Bridge Complex on Busti Avenue and Rhode Island Street. This site will provide information on maximum impacts from the Peace Bridge operations. Another site is located 1,000 meters (about 0.70 mile) east of the Peace Bridge Complex at the PS198 Preparatory School (formerly Grover Cleveland School). This site will provide information on levels of air pollutants in an urban environment away from the influence of the Peace Bridge Complex and surrounding highways.

What is being monitored?

Air pollutants associated with the combustion of fuel and evaporative releases from diesel trucks and motor vehicles.

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will be collected as a 24-hour sample, once every six days. Some examples of VOCs from vehicle emissions include benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene.
  • Carbonyls will be collected as a 24-hour sample, once every six days. Some examples of carbonyls from vehicle emissions include acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. Carbonyls like acetaldehyde and formaldehyde also can be formed from other gases in the presence of sunlight through a process called photochemistry.
  • Black carbon will be collected hourly, every day. Emissions from diesel engines are one of the sources of black carbon.
  • Fine particles (PM2.5) will be collected hourly, every day. The burning of fuel by any source causes the release of PM2.5, including motor vehicles.
  • Ultrafine particles will be collected hourly, every day. The burning of fuel by any source causes the release of ultrafine particles, including motor vehicles.

Are both residential monitors looking for the same suite of air pollutants?

The downwind site close to the Peace Bridge contains instruments collecting data for all five categories of air pollutants. The urban site (at PS198) contains instruments to collect measurements for PM2.5 and black carbon, which is an indicator of motor vehicle emissions. DEC's monitoring network has a number of sites collecting data for VOCs and carbonyls in urban environments situated away from heavily traveled roads. Results for VOCs and carbonyls from these sites can be used for comparison to the results from the downwind monitor.

How is this Study different from the first study?

The first monitoring effort included a shorter period of sampling (September 2012 - March 2013) and focused on PM2.5 and black carbon, which is an indicator of motor vehicle emissions. The new Study will include VOCs, carbonyls and ultrafine particles. Results from ultrafine particle monitoring from other locations in the New York and across the country will be used to compare to the results obtained near the Peace Bridge. The new Study was designed in collaboration with the community and will involve community volunteers collecting samples.

Why the interest in ultrafine particles?

Recent studies have found connections between exposures to ultrafine particles and adverse cardiovascular and respiratory effects. The evidence from these studies suggests that potential health risks are associated with the size and number of particles and not just the weight of particles. The ultrafine instrument selected for this study provides information on the number of particles in the air rather than the weight of particles in the air. Because of these recent studies and the refinement of the instrumentation, EPA now recommends that states monitor ultrafine particles near busy roadways.

What else is DEC doing about ultrafine particles?

DEC staff have worked with researchers for more than a decade to learn about ultrafine particles in ambient air and those emitted from vehicles. DEC plans to install an ultrafine particulate monitor at a site near the busy Interstate-90 thruway in Cheektowaga (near Buffalo). Ultrafine particulate monitors also are located in a rural area in Pinnacle State Park near Corning, NY and an urban setting at Queens College. DEC has also recently installed an ultrafine monitor in the neighborhood near the Peace Bridge because the public is concerned about exposures to ultrafine particles and because there is a high incidence of asthma in the area. This study will continue for one year, and DEC wrote to EPA in July 2014 asking for support of an ultrafine particle monitoring effort in this neighborhood. See the letter under "Important Links."

What is the current status of the study?

DEC staff held three meetings at the Region 9 office. The presentations are available here:

Peace Bridge Study - 1st Data Review Meeting (PDF) (1.72 MB, 27 pgs.)

Peace Bridge Study - 2nd Data Review Meeting (PDF) (4.39 MB, 46 pgs.)

Peace Bridge Study - 3rd Data Review Meeting (PDF) (3.43 MB, 47 pgs.)

How can I access the data?

The raw hourly data are available on our web site.

Downwind Site (Busti Ave.)

Urban Site (PS198)

The validated hourly data are available through the end of 2014. This data can be obtained in Excel format. Send email requests for this data to dar.web@dec.ny.gov.

For more information, contact:

Dirk Felton or Randi Walker
(518) 402-8508

Map of the downwind and urban air monitoring sites for the 2014 Peace Bridge Study

Map of the downwind and urban air monitoring sites for the 2014 Peace Bridge Study

More about Peace Bridge Air Studies:

  • Peace Bridge Study - Interim Report September 2013 - The NYSDEC undertook a six month air monitoring campaign beginning in late August 2012. This report provides a summary of the data collected in phase one of the project.
  • Peace Bridge Phase I Air Monitoring 2012 - DEC will conduct air monitoring at the Peace Bridge to assess local air quality. The monitoring is designed to assess air quality prior to prospective renovations of the Peace Bridge plaza, as well as after renovations.