EPA OKs New York carbon monoxide

10-year compliance with standard tied to auto-pollution controls

May 12, 2002|By Tina Kelley | Tina Kelley,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK - New York City meets federal clean air standards for carbon monoxide, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced. The agency made the designation at the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Carbon monoxide, emitted primarily from vehicles, is a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal in high indoor concentrations. It can affect the body's ability to absorb oxygen, particularly in people with cardiovascular disease.

While the city violated the federal standard more than 150 times in 1978 alone, it has met the standard for nearly 10 years, according to the EPA, in part because of pollution controls on cars, and cleaner fuels.

"This is one pollution problem that we have solved in our area, thanks in large measure to cleaner cars and better fuel," said Jane M. Kenny, regional administrator with the EPA. "There's no doubt New Yorkers breathe healthier air today than they did a decade ago. Our goal now is further reductions of smog, soot and toxic air pollutants in our urban air."

Peter M. Iwanowicz, director of environmental health for the American Lung Association of New York State, called the designation good news. "To reduce one of the major health threats in our air, and to actually get to a standard where it hasn't been exceeded in over 10 years, is an achievement," he said. "That's not to say more work doesn't need to be done," particularly in reducing pollution caused by ozone and fine particles.

The EPA has set more stringent standards for smog reduction and a new standard for fine particles. The state's Department of Environmental Conservation has a plan to reduce pollution and meet federal ground-level ozone standards.

"Under the leadership of Governor [George] Pataki, New York state has made significant progress in reducing air pollution and improving air quality, which clearly benefits all New Yorkers," said Erin M. Crotty, commissioner of the state's Department of Environmental Conservation. "Programs that control harmful vehicle emissions and other sources of pollution have been highly effective and are producing cleaner and healthier air in urban areas and communities across New York state."

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