Department of Environmental Conservation

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Community Air Screen (CAS)

DEC's CAS program helps community groups and interested citizens collect air samples. The results help the community and DEC understand air quality concerns. DEC provides the air sampling equipment and training to participants in the program. The participants collect air samples and then DEC analyzes the air samples and provides an explanation of the results. The results help DEC and the participants understand air quality concerns.

  • In 2012-2014, 22 groups participated in the program. Contact us to learn more.
  • In 2017-2018, 11 groups participated in the program. To learn more, read the reports.
Watch a clip about the types of instruments used in the program - a SUMMA canister and the SKC pump. Check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

Objective

The goals of the program are to understand community concerns arising from toxic air pollutants on a localized level and to work with the community to address problems. Toxic air pollutants are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects. Examples of gaseous toxic air pollutants include benzene, which is found in gasoline; perchloroethylene, which is used by some dry cleaning facilities; and formaldehyde, which is released from fossil fuel burning engines and is also formed in the atmosphere in the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and sunlight. Although the focus of the program is on gaseous pollutants, we are interested in learning about all air-related community concerns.

The program utilizes sampling equipment that collects air over a one-hour period of time. Depending on the types of sources in the community, the same location may be sampled a few times or multiple samplers may be used over the community. The goal of this type of sampling is to provide a quick understanding of the types of air toxics found in the community using EPA-approved air sampling equipment and analysis method. If air toxics are detected at levels of concern, additional testing will be conducted. One benefit of the screening approach is that it allows for a rapid assessment of many communities statewide.

DEC staff and a teacher discuss Community Air Screen sampling

Since the samples are collected over a short period of time and are a limited number of samples, the information obtained cannot be used for enforcement or compliance purposes. Additionally, the results from this screening approach cannot be used to provide a complete understanding of risk attributable from air toxics in the community.

How were communities selected?

Local community groups or interested citizens requested participation in the program through an application process. Upon selection to the program, the location for sampling in the community were determined using information provided by the community group, local meteorological information, and location of industrial sources or traffic areas. The number of samples collected for each community varied depending on the industrial sources, pollutant of concern and estimated community air quality level.

What type of sampling equipment was used?

Air samples for evaluation of VOCs were collected using 6-liter stainless steel canisters, sometimes called SUMMA canisters. Six liters is about one and a half gallons. The term "SUMMA" refers to the high-quality polishing of the canisters. This type of equipment is convenient and provides a reliable method for collecting air samples. The canisters are stainless steel and are designed to maintain the integrity and stability of the sample while it is transported to the laboratory. Also, canisters provide more accurate results than bucket type samplers which are sometimes used for community sampling. The samples were analyzed by the DEC laboratory using EPA's method TO-15.

Air samples for the evaluation of formaldehyde was done using small sampling tubes with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) on the sampling media. The samples were analyzed using EPA's method TO-11A.

Completed 2017-18 CAS Program Reports

Each report details the results and contains an explanation of the methods used to evaluate the samples. For information purposes, three technical appendices accompany each report to provide details about air toxics in NYS.

Contact us to obtain a copy of the report detailing the results for previous participants.

Results Summaries

Highlights for each community are provided.

Albany County - Town of Coeymans

Five air samples were collected in the Town of Coeymans. Twenty-three toxic air pollutants were detected. Two pollutants were found at concentrations higher than commonly found in the air toxics monitoring network but below short-term and long-term, health-based air concentration values. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Albany County - Cohoes Community

Four air samples were collected in the city of Cohoes near the Norlite Facility. Twenty-eight toxic air pollutants were detected. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Essex County - Keeseville Community
Little girl holding onto a tree

Two air samples were collected in the Keeseville community. Twenty-five toxic air pollutants were detected. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Kings County - Williamsburg-Bushwick Community

Four air samples were collected in the Williamsburg-Bushwick community. Twenty-six toxic air pollutants were detected. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Onondaga County - City of Syracuse

Five air samples were collected in the City of Syracuse along Interstate-81. Twenty-six toxic air pollutants were detected. The applicant plans to use the results for baseline measurements of air toxics if the elevation of Interstate-81 is changed in the near future. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Suffolk County - Brookhaven Village Association

Four air samples were collected in the Brookhaven community, around the Brookhaven Landfill. The samples were collected downwind of the landfill and outside of periods of high traffic along nearby major roads such as State Highway 27. Twenty-six toxic air pollutants were detected. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Suffolk County - Dix Hills Community

Four air samples were collected in the Dix Hills community. Twenty-seven toxic air pollutants were detected. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Seneca County - Town of Seneca Falls

Air samples were collected near the Seneca Meadows Landfill and the Seneca Energy Facility. Two air samples were collected for analysis of VOCs and 29 pollutants were reliably detected. Seven air samples were collected using an air pump fitted with an absorbent sampling media, which was analyzed for formaldehyde. All formaldehyde results were within the range found in other rural areas of NYS. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Tioga County - Village of Owego

Four air samples were collected in the Village of Owego at a park adjacent to a metal recycling facility. Thirty toxic air pollutants were detected. Most of the results were similar to concentrations found in DEC's ambient air monitoring network but the results for seven pollutants were unusual. As a follow-up, staff conducted a site inspection at the metal recycling facility on February 7, 2019 to better understand operations and sources of air toxins at this facility. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).

Westchester County - Peekskill Community

Four air samples were collected in the City of Peekskill. Twenty-eight toxic air pollutants were detected. For additional information, download the complete report (PDF).