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For Release: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DEC Selects Communities across the State to Explore Local Air Quality Issues

Community Groups to Begin Collecting Air Samples

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) selected 23 applicants from communities across the state to conduct air sampling to help identify and address local air quality concerns, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. DEC will analyze the samples for possible air toxic pollutants.

"DEC selected communities from all regions across the state to conduct air sampling to help us understand air quality concerns at the community level," DEC Commissioner Martens said. These samples will provide DEC with a better picture of the state's air quality at the neighborhood level and help identify areas that need to be addressed."

In selecting applicants for the Community Air Screen Program, a committee evaluated the applications and considered the description of the community air quality concerns, details of the sampling plan, whether the location was in or near an environmental justice area and whether it was around sensitive outdoor areas like schools, day care facilities and public areas where people play.

Participants will use 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. A total of 60 samples will be collected through this program which starts mid July, 2012 and will run for about a year.

If air toxics are detected above levels of concern, DEC will conduct additional testing. If further sampling confirms air quality concerns, DEC staff will 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.

DEC received a total of 42 applications. EPA funding allowed DEC to accept 23 applications to the organizations and individuals below:

Albany: Clean Air Neighborhoods

Dutchess: Marta Knapp from Poughkeepsie

Erie: Commodore Perry Tenant Council

Kings: The Harmony Park Health Initiative; Prospect Park Quiet Skies and SAVE Bed Stuyvesant Community Organization

Niagara: Highland Community Revitalization Committee

Onondaga: Doreen Miori-Merola; partnership of Council of Park Friends for Clark Reservation and Jamesville Positive Action Committee (JamPAC)

Ontario & Seneca: Partnership of Finger Lakes Zero Waste Coalition, Inc. and Concerned Citizens of Seneca County

Queens: Locust Grove Civic Association; Eastern Queens Alliance; United Community Civic Association; Jackson Heights Beautification Group and New Hamilton Beach Civic Association

St. Lawrence & Franklin: Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment

Suffolk County: Brookhaven Village Association; Joseph Dispigno; South Yaphank Civic Association; Medford Taxpayers & Civic Association and partnership of Kings Park Civic Association, San Remo Civic Association and Commack Community Association

Ulster: City of Kingston Parks and Recreation

Warren: Heather Shoudy Brechko and Jason Brechko

Community groups and residents can follow the progress of the air sampling and obtain more information on the Community Air Screen Program on DEC's website or call the DEC office at 518-402-8044.

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