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Air Quality Monitoring

New York's Program to Track Air Quality

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To protect human health and the environment from harm, DEC measures levels of outdoor air pollution. DEC reports these measurements to EPA's AQS system. DEC also provides a forecast for some pollutants that can be harmful to human health, and data are available in real-time on our AQI webpage and through DEC Delivers and other broadcast media. Along with measuring and reporting air quality data, DEC also writes reports and network assessments for the public and technical community.

DEC measures air pollutants at more than 50 sites across the state using continuous and/or manual instrumentation. These sites are a mix of federally-mandated and supplemental monitoring networks. 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 a laboratory for analysis.

2018 Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Networks

Monitoring the air for pollution is a complex technical task requiring:

  • direct measurement of pollutants,
  • comparison against National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and EPA measurement standards,
  • internal and external quality assurance,
  • co-location of instrumentation to ensure intra-system consistency between two of the same instruments,
  • replicate analysis to ensure analytical consistency,
  • continuous review of measured data and diagnostic information, and more to ensure data is the most accurate, precise, and complete possible.

DEC works with many national networks, universities, and regional programs. These partnerships allow not only for a robust and consistent dataset, but they help NY lead with the latest technology and methods. Some of these networks include:

  • State and Local Air Monitoring Stations (SLAMS)
    • Sites track ambient air quality for the main purpose of comparison to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (leaves DEC website).
    • More information about individual NAAQS can be found on the EPA's Criteria Air Pollutants webpage (leaves DEC website)
    • Monitoring aspects are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Parts 50, 53 and 58.
    • Must use approved Federal Reference Method (FRM) or Federal Equivalent Method (FEM) for ambient pollutant levels to be compared to the NAAQS
  • National Core (NCore) Network
    • Monitors for all the gases except for O3 are more sensitive than standard FRM/FEM monitors to measure concentrations that are well below the respective NAAQS. This data is important to study the formation of ozone and particles.
    • Measures particles (PM2.5, speciated PM2.5, PM10-2.5, speciated PM10-2.5), O3, SO2, CO, nitrogen oxides (NO/NO2/NOy), and basic meteorology.
    • Data provide support for long-term health assessments that contribute to ongoing reviews of the NAAQS.
  • Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations (PAMS)
    • Monitors oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds during the summer ozone season.
    • Data assist air pollution control agencies in evaluating, tracking the progress of, and refining control strategies for attaining the ozone NAAQS.
    • Provide local, current meteorological and ambient data to feed into photochemical grid models. These data can later be used as a baseline for model evaluation.
  • National Air Toxics Trends Station (NATTS) Network
    DEC Engineer Santosh Mahat performing a routine audit on ground level Ozone analyzer at Queens Ncore Site
    DEC Engineer Santosh Mahat
    performing a routine audit on ground level
    Ozone analyzer at Queens Ncore Site.
    • Supplies long-term monitoring data and shows trends for certain priority air toxics across the country.
    • There are 23 NATTS established in 22 cities across the country. The two New York NATTS sites are in Bronx and Rochester.
      • Outside of the NATTS program, NYS has been operating a toxics monitoring network since 1990. There are 13 sites statewide collecting 24-hr canister samples for VOC analysis in a 1-in-6 day interval.
    • Both NATTS and independent sites measure 42 VOCs and 12 carbonyl species. Data from these sites are submitted quarterly to EPA's AQS system.
  • Near-Road NO2 Network
    • Measures peak, ambient NO2 concentrations as a result of motor vehicles.
    • DEC operates three sites in Rochester, Buffalo, and Queens.
    • Data are used to advance research on the impact of motor vehicles on the environment and public health.
  • Special Studies
    • In addition to working within the above programs, DEC leads and assists with special studies as resources allow. More information about special studies can be found in the navigation bar links (left). Historical information about completed studies are available in the NYS Archives and by request.

More about Air Quality Monitoring:

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    Division of Air Resources
    625 Broadway
    Albany NY 12233-3256
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