NYC Clean Heat, Local Law 43, and other state legislation regulating heating oils (No. 4 and No. 6) in New York City were put in place to address the public health hazard presented by these fuels. The main concern with burning heavy oil for heat is the pollution: when burned, these oils emit sulfur dioxide (SOx) and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). While levels of SOx have decreased in all heating oils due to Local Law 43 and state law, PM 2.5 levels are only reduced when individual buildings take action and make the switch from heavy heating oils to cleaner alternatives.
Since 2011, many buildings have worked with NYC Clean Heat to make the switch to cleaner fuels such as natural gas and ultra-low sulfur No. 2 oil (ULS 2) with biodiesel blends. As of September 2013, more than 2,000 buildings have completed conversions to the cleanest available fuels. This has reduced PM 2.5 emissions by a projected 200 tons citywide. Another 1,500 buildings are working with the program to help finish their conversions.
PM 2.5 emissions in Lower Manhattan, before and after NYC Clean Heat
As a result, New Yorkers can now enjoy cleaner and safer air. A new report from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) quantifies these reductions in SOx and PM 2.5 by comparing community level air quality surveys carried out in 2008-2009 and 2012-2013. In this time period, levels of SOx have dropped by 69% and PM 2.5 levels have dropped 23%. The cleaner air is preventing an estimated 800 deaths and 2,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations from lung and cardiovascular diseases annually.
Nickel Emissions (an indicator of PM 2.5) in 2008 and 2012
Mayor Bloomberg celebrated the findings of this report and results of these programs in a press announcement during Climate Week 2013.
New Yorkers can be proud of all the accomplishments that have been made in just a few short years but there is more work that can be done. Thousands of buildings in NYC continue to pollute the air by continuing to burn heavy heating oil. As illustrated in the maps above, high concentrations of these heavy oil buildings are in areas as diverse as the Upper East and West Sides, Upper Manhattan, and South Bronx. The NYC Clean Heat team is working hard in all areas of the City to connect buildings with the technical and financial assistance needed to clean up their heating systems. Click here for more information on the buildings that have completed conversions and those that still are burning heavy oil. Is your building burning No. 4 or No. 6? Contact NYC Clean Heat today and find out how you can help.