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Air Quality Monitoring

New York's Program to Track Air Quality

To protect humans and the environment from damage by air pollution, DEC continually measures levels of pollutants in the air. DEC regularly reports the results of these measurements -- in the case of ozone, which at high levels can be a threat to human health, the results and predicted pollution levels are reported in real time, on DEC's website and through broadcast media.

DEC measures air pollutants at more than 50 sites across the state, using continuous and/or manual instrumentation. These sites are part of the federally-mandated National Air Monitoring Stations Network and the State and Local Air Monitoring Stations Network. Real time direct reading measurements include gaseous criteria pollutants (ozone, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide), PM2.5 (fine particulate with diameter less than 2.5 microns), and meteorological data. Filter based PM2.5, lead, and acid deposition samples are collected manually and shipped to the laboratory for analysis.

Monitoring air for pollutants is a complex technical task, requiring not only direct measurement, but also measurement standards and quality assurance to ensure that the information provides a correct understanding of air quality in New York State. Ambient air quality reports provide the data and interpretations to the technical community and the public.

DEC also operates the Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations (PAMS) and the National Ambient Toxics Trend Stations (NATTS) as part of the EPA supported national networks. The PAMS network monitors volatile organic compounds as ozone precursors during the summer ozone season. All of the above monitoring is done for the purpose of determining the quality of the ambient air in the state so that programs can be developed to target the appropriate source categories for emission reductions. DEC is a partner in the EPA NATTS network, and these sites have become part of the New York State Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) ambient monitoring network that has been in operation by BAQS since 1990. Methodologies are continually being developed nationally for other compounds of concern.


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