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Air pollution can harm human health and damage all the elements of the ecosystem. For over four decades, state and federal governments have controlled the emission of pollutants through permits with enforceable requirements, and have measured and monitored pollution levels in the air.

DEC carries out state and federal air pollution control and monitoring programs. This website includes detailed information about how NYS controls air pollution, data gathered by the air program, and information about the sources and effects of air pollution.

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Sign up with DEC Delivers in the box to the right to receive Air Mail!, the monthly air quality newsletter, including stakeholder news and other air program issues in NYS.

Sources and Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollutants originate from many human activities. Most pollutants come from:

Pollutants emitted from tall stacks move high in the air, descending to earth to do damage miles downwind from their source.

Air pollution damages health and the environment in a variety of ways. Hot summer weather sets the stage for formation of ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), two pollutants of concern for human health. Fish and wildlife show harmful effects from acid rain and mercury in air. Greenhouse gases (chiefly carbon dioxide) in the air are changing the world's climate.

NY's Air Pollution Control Program

The federal and state air pollution programs include permits and technical requirements to control emission of pollutants, along with extensive measurement and monitoring of ambient pollutant levels. A key element of the program is the Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program, which checks vehicle emissions and requires repairs to failed pollution control equipment.

Federal law requires DEC to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) that demonstrates how state air pollution control programs will be carried out to reduce pollution and to ensure that air contaminant levels are in compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (leaves DEC website). The SIP includes plans to bring areas that contravene the NAAQS into attainment.

This website includes information about applying for permits, about permits already granted and currently under consideration, and about measurements of air pollutants, both current levels and data for years past.

More about Air:

  • Contact for this Page
    Division of Air Resources
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-3250
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions