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For Release: Thursday, August 28, 2014

DEC Begins Year-Long Air Quality Study in Peace Bridge Neighborhood

Community Information Meeting to Be Held Monday, September 15th to Discuss the Air Monitoring Plan

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that a new study commenced this month to monitor air quality in residential communities near the Peace Bridge in Buffalo. DEC worked with community stakeholders to develop the new year-long study that will gather data on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles, as well as seasonal changes in air quality associated with traffic patterns near the Peace Bridge.

DEC will host a community meeting on September 15 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. at the Niagara Branch Library on 280 Porter Ave. in Buffalo to discuss the air monitoring study. Community residents will have an opportunity to ask questions. A Spanish language interpreter will be on hand during the meeting to assist members of the community.

In 2012 and 2013, DEC performed a six-month air monitoring study near the Peace Bridge that focused on particulate matter and black carbon available on DEC's website. While the study indicated air quality for particulate matter in the areas monitored are below federal standards, DEC will expand on this effort at the request of community groups. DEC staff met with stakeholders from the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, Columbus Park Neighborhood Association and the general public to listen to their additional concerns regarding air quality in their neighborhoods. Based on that community input, the new DEC air quality study will expand upon the previous monitoring and include VOCs, some of which are considered air toxics, and ultrafine particles. Air monitors are located in two residential neighborhoods -- one near the Peace Bridge Complex (at Busti Avenue and Rhode Island Street) and the other farther east of the bridge, away from activities associated with the bridge and nearby highway traffic. Air monitoring began in both residential neighborhoods during the week of August 18th.

Community volunteers will be involved in collecting samples as part of the new study, focusing on periods of traffic congestion, such as during holidays or major sporting events, while DEC's sampling will provide a broader understanding of air quality in the Peace Bridge neighborhood.

At the community meeting on September 15th, DEC staff will explain the selection of monitoring locations and air contaminants to be monitored, and outline plans to present the results once the study is completed. The discussion will also include information on the community sampling (citizen science effort), including opportunities for the community to participate in the monitoring effort, and how the community can access near real-time data from the monitoring sites.

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