New York State Air Quality Improving for 2012 Overall

May 30th, 2014

According to the, there are more than 3.2 million New Yorkers living in counties with poor air quality, but overall air quality has improved for New York State. The State of the Air 2012 report released by the American Lung association states that air quality for New York State has improved.

Six of 34 of New York’s counties that have air quality monitoring systems in place got failing grades. This is an improvement from 2011, when 16 counties received a failing grade. While there is improvement, the State of the Air and the American Lung Association stated there are too many in New York state who breathe air that is not of good quality.

The Clean Air Act, a federal act was first approved in 1970 and then amended in 1990. Jeff Seyler, president of the American Lung Association in the Northeast stated that it needs to be enforced and to have stricter standards for New York State.

The counties were graded on several levels, from Ozone, Year-Round Particle Pollution and Short-Term Particle Pollution Levels.

Hudson Valley, Ulster and Duchess counties each improved by one letter grade for their ozone levels. Both Westchester and Putnam counties received and F for their ozone levels. Westchester County was the dirtiest county for ozone and the third most dirty in the state according to the State of the Air. Erie, Monroe and Wayne counties improved by two letter grades.

New York State’s Department of Environment Conservation stated on Wednesday April 25th they would partner with community groups to do regular air-quality monitoring. The Community Air Screen Program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency for $170,000. Local community groups and individual may take air quality samples in their neighborhoods to check air quality.

While some counties in New York need to improve, it is exciting to see that others have made improvements from last year’s results. The new initiative may encourage other counties and areas to improve their air quality and to reduce air pollution.

New Study Suggests Possible Link to Risk of Heart Attack and Air Pollution

March 27th, 2014

Air quality may be an important link to reducing heart attacks according to a recent study., states the study was published in The Lancet and ranks air pollution as a possible contributor just as physical exertion, anger and alcohol use are considered triggers. It states that air pollution may be linked to heart attacks for the general population.

The fine particles in the air created by both traffic and power plants are considered to trigger the same number of heart attacks as negative emotions, shoveling snow or other physical exertion and alcohol. While on an individual level, the risk of air pollution triggering a heart attack is low – when these smaller risks are considered for a larger group of people – they could be considered a trigger.

Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, associate professor of environmental epigenetics in the department of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston stated that while the analysis was not difficult, no one had ever done it before. But to compare air pollution to other risk factors was, “brilliant” as air pollution is a concern in communities.

This research is very interesting and echoes other research studies we’ve discovered that discuss the potential health risks for air pollution. Clearly air pollution is not good for people’s health.

Take the time to understand the air quality in your community. Ask how you can be involved and help improve your air quality. While air quality may seem like an overwhelming problem, if you get involved and others do too – you have the ability to make a difference. Others will be inspired by your changes and they may make healthy changes too.

Consider carpooling to work or using public transportation a few days a week for your commute. In most communities this is an easy and convenient choice. Carpooling can have its benefits as you get to know your neighbors and coworkers. You may have the opportunity to network or make new friends.

Plants improve our air quality. Taking the time to grow plants, flowers and trees will help air quality. Even if you don’t have a garden of your own – you can help grow by volunteering at a community garden or growing plants on your windowsill or deck. Every plant you nurture and grow has the ability to help air quality. Best of all you can enjoy fresh veggies, fruits, flowers and the beauty of nature.


Something’s Buzzing at the Dusseldorf International Airport with Great Air Quality!

January 22nd, 2014

Something’s Buzzing at the Dusseldorf International Airport with Great Air Quality!

If you said something was “buzzing” at the Dusseldorf International Airport in Germany…you’d certainly be right. They are monitoring their air quality with bees. Bees? You heard correctly.

According to, the airport is using bees for environmental health, just as other airports have done recently. Apparently, the bees have been successful at monitoring the quality of water – so it seems that scientists thought they would be good at monitoring the air quality also.

So how can we tell if the bees are doing a good job? It’s the honey they produce! The bees honey is then tested in the labs two times a year for heavy metals and specific hydrocarbons. To date the honey has been similar to that produced in non-industrial areas. The scientists believe the early data looks “promising” but they would like to look at additional data over a longer period of time.

The first batch of honey from the Dusseldorf International Airport was produced from 200,000 bees living at the airport. The honey tested appears similar to that of what would be produced in a rural area. Using bees originally began in 2006. The air quality at the airport is also monitored in other traditional ways – not simply from the bees’ findings.

The bees and their honey seem a very practical and natural way to demonstrate how good the air quality is at the Dusseldorf International Airport. The bees are actually being kept by local beekeepers in the area and the honey is then bottled as “Dusseldorf Natural” and is given away. How interesting to be a part of their air quality findings, and to spread some of their delicious honey on a piece of bread or your morning muffin, knowing that these bees have been hard at work checking if the airport has good air quality.

Fairhaven Honey Harvest 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: GilmourCreative

It will be interesting to see if other airports across the world follow suit and use bees at their locations to confirm air quality. To know that bees have done so well with water pollution sounds quite promising. This is a very “green” solution to air quality and air pollution, using bees to maintain good air quality – in addition to traditional methods.

Best of all, it is something fun for the community to enjoy and actually experience the “fruit” of good air quality efforts. To see and taste the results of good air quality is so wonderful. That they can enjoy this natural honey, and know that their airport is clean is a great benefit. A very unique experience that not everyone has. But it is also a great way to get people excited about clean air and staying active in monitoring air quality. Hopefully other airports will follow in their footsteps and bring bees on board to help!


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EPA Awards 10th Annual Clean Excellence Awards

November 19th, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will present their 10th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards for 2009. They will honor 14 organizations and an individual that have reduced pollution, promoted environmental education and created green products and jobs in the U.S.A..

Clean Air Excellence Awards

Clean Air Excellence Awards

It is exciting to see people and organizations honored for their efforts to help keep air clean. Knowing that they make a difference in the air we breathe means a lot. A single person can make an effort – and that one person can help so many breathe a lot easier. It is a profound thought to realize just how much these fifteen honorees have done for the U.S.A. – and beyond to help others enjoy the fine benefits of clean air.

The 2009 award winners were chosen from 124 applicants. They come from several categories: clean air technology, education/outreach, regulatory policy, innovation and transportation efficiency. Additionally two special awards will be given for outstanding individual achievement and overall environmental excellence.

The two additional awards are:

The Thomas W. Zosel Outstanding Individual Achievement Award. Given to one individual for outstanding achievement, demonstrated leadership and a commitment to promoting clean air and helping with better air quality.

Gregg Cooke Visionary Program Award. This award recognizes an outstanding project or program for environmental excellence in one of five award categories (i.e., clean air technology, community action, education/outreach, regulatory/policy innovations, and transportation efficiency innovations.)

Congratulations to the award winners and thank you for all you have done to help others breathe clean air and to lead greener lives. You have made a great difference!


Add Indoor Houseplants to Purify the Air

September 16th, 2013
Ficus benjamina

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that some indoor houseplants actually help to purify the air? While they won’t purify the air as successfully as an air filter, they certainly can help. Adding one or a few of these plants to your home is an ideal choice, especially for allergy or asthma sufferers. Some plants or flowering plants may bother your allergies – but these indoor houseplants could be an ideal choice. Always check with your doctor before adding plants to your home if you are allergic to pollen or plants and flowers.

Most indoor plants are easy to care for. It is important to follow the instructions. Some indoor plants want lots of sunlight and others want indirect light. It is easier to follow the instructions than some might think, simply read the plastic tab that comes with most indoor houseplants that comes with your plant. It has an image of your plant with growing instructions. This tab will tell you exactly how to care for your plant. If uncertain, ask at the greenhouse or place where you purchase your plants.

Some of the most popular indoor plants for purifying the air include:

  • Philodendron
  • English Ivy
  • Spider Plant
  • Weeping Fig
  • Golden Pothos
  • Peace Lily
  • Bamboo or Reed Palm
  • Snake Plant
  • Red-Edged Dracaena

NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America conducted a study in the late 1980’s and these plants were among some of the most successful indoor plants to be found to purify the air. This study, conducted by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson and Keith Bounds was originally done to help find ways to purify the air for the astronauts as they orbited in space stations. But we know you’ll agree that this study shows how you can help purify the air right in your home…not just as you glide past Mars in a space station!

Many know that plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen by using photosynthesis. This study discovered that indoor houseplants help to remove harmful elements including trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde from the air we breathe. Both NASA and the ACLA spent two years on their study testing 19 different well known houseplants to see how successfully they removed air bound pollutants. From the 19 plants, 17 are “true” houseplants and two of them – the gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums are often used indoors as decorations during certain seasons.

The study went on to suggest that the typical home of less than 2,000 square feet should have 15 samples of these houseplants to improve air quality. The plants are best when grown in at least six inch containers or even larger containers.

It’s easy to add a few plants to your home and they look so nice. Choose one or a few varieties to compliment your home. Remember these plant care tips:

Under watering can be just as much a challenge as over-watering. Touch the soil and it should feel moist, like nourished soil outside does (not damp and not dry). Most indoor plants do well being watered twice a week, depending on size and variety.

Is your plant getting larger? It may be time to re-pot it. When your plant gets bigger, it needs a new home. Go to the greenhouse or plant store and buy a new pot and dish for your plant – don’t forget to buy soil to help repot your plant.

Does your plant have brown or crumbled leaves? Remove them gently and you’ll help your plant grow strong and healthy. Sometimes a plant gets too much sun – remove it from that much sunlight for the future.

Read more about the NASA study here: