Air Pollution

Things related to air pollution from large industrial sources of pollution.

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Sulfur Dioxide Emissions in NY State

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is one of a group of gases called sulfur oxides (SOx). While all of these gases are harmful to human health and the environment, SO2 is of greater concern.

Control measures that reduce SO2 can generally be expected to reduce people’s exposures to all gaseous SOx. This may have the important co-benefit of reducing the formation of particulate SOx such as fine sulfate particles.

Emissions that lead to high concentrations of SO2 generally also lead to the formation of other SOx. The largest sources of SO2 emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants andother industrial facilities.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is one of a group of gases called sulfur oxides (SOx). While all of these gases are harmful to human health and the environment, SO2 is of greater concern.

Control measures that reduce SO2 can generally be expected to reduce people’s exposures to all gaseous SOx. This may have the important co-benefit of reducing the formation of particulate SOx such as fine sulfate particles.

Emissions that lead to high concentrations of SO2 generally also lead to the formation of other SOx. The largest sources of SO2 emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants andother industrial facilities.

In 2013, 52% of the state's industrial emissions of sulfur dioxide come from four coal fired power plants -- Somerset Operating Company, Huntley Steam Station, Cayuga Operating Company and Dunkirk Steam Generating Station. Most of these plants now are only used occasionally, if not permanently retired in favor of natural gas repowering or abandonment.

Data Source: Title V Emissions Inventory, 2013. https://data.ny.gov/Energy-Environment/Title-V-Emissions-Inventory-Beginning-2010/4ry5-tfin

Particulate Matter Emissions, Title V Emitters, by percentage

In 2013, the latest year that data is available, Title V Large Industrial Air Pollution emitters released 15,973 tons of particulate matter in New York State. The largest emitter was Finch Paper in Glens Falls, releasing 5,795 tons or about 36% of state's total particulate emissions from Title V facilities. LaFarge aka Blue Circle Cement in Coeymans was second, releasing 1,440 tons of particulate matter or about 9% of state's total Title V industrial emissions.

Data Source: Title V Emissions Inventory. https://data.ny.gov/Energy-Environment/Title-V-Emissions-Inventory-Beginning-2010/4ry5-tfin

Trump’s EPA Seeks Deadly Air Pollution Loophole for Dirty Trucks

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to roll back emission safeguards against sales of dirty trucks, leaving the public to cough and wheeze on more air pollution. NRDC is opposing the rollback at a public hearing on Dec. 4 in Washington, DC."

"The EPA proposal would lift restrictions on the number of new trucks that can be sold using old, refurbished engines (so-called "glider vehicles") that don't meet modern emissions standards. The proposal creates a dirty truck loophole that permits niche industry players to circumvent necessary clean air safeguards and sell an unlimited number of new, dirty trucks on the cheap."

"Approximately 10,000 heavy trucks have been sold annually in recent years that lack modern combustion and emissions control technologies to reduce dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) from diesel exhaust. These pollutants contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog, and soot, and are directly linked to asthma attacks, respiratory and heart problems, and premature death."

Harvey Danger: Major Chemical Plant Near Houston Likely to Explode, Facility Owner Warns

Don't worry, be happy!

"One of the world's largest chemical companies warned Wednesday that its flooded plant near Houston will likely catch fire and explode in the next few days — and there's nothing the company can do about it."

"Arkema Group's plant in Crosby, Texas — about 20 miles northeast of Houston — was inundated by more than 40 inches of rain by Hurricane Harvey and has been without electricity since Sunday, the company, based in Colombes, France, said in a statement."

"The plant manufactures organic peroxides commonly used in everyday products like kitchen countertops, industrial paints, polystyrene cups and plates and PVC piping. The materials must be kept very cool, but refrigerators for the plant's low-temperature containers are out of commission, and backup generators were also swamped, meaning "the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real," the company said."

Summer U.S. Forecast: Hotter, More Polluted Than Usual by Dr. Jeff Masters

"The odds favor a hotter than average summer for much of the Western U.S., and a closer to average one for the Eastern U.S., according to the May seasonal forecasts from The Weather Company’s WSI branch, and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). Meteorological summer began on June 1, and the first week of summer has been on the cool side for much of the United States. However, a shift in the jet stream pattern is coming late this week and into early next week, which will bring hot conditions to much of the eastern half of the U.S. WSI anticipates the possibility of a weak El Nino late summer, perhaps with enough influence on the tropical atmosphere to limit the magnitude of the heat across the northern Plains, Great Lakes, and Eastern U.S. Similarly, in an outlook issued in mid-May, a model-based outlook from IRI and NOAA gave slightly-better-than-even odds of El Niño developing. However, the offiical NOAA/IRI forecast from early May has lower odds, between 40% and 50%. If El Niño does not develop, the odds of stronger and more widespread U.S. heat this summer will rise."

"NOAA is predicting increased odds of a hot summer not only for the Western U.S., but also for the South and Northeast. WSI also predicts a hot summer for the Southeast during July and August. So, what does this mean for air pollution levels this summer?"

Google Maps: Fine Particulate Matter PM2.5 2003-2011 Average

The Outdoor Air Quality - Fine Particulate Matter data available on CDC WONDER are geographically aggregated daily measures of fine particulate matter in the outdoor air, spanning the years 2003-2011. PM2.5 particles are air pollutants with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. Reported measures are the daily measure of fine particulate matter in micrograms per cubic meter (PM2.5) (µg/m³), the number of observations, minimum and maximum range value, and standard deviation. Data are available by place (combined 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia, region, division, state, county), time (year, month, day) and specified fine particulate matter (µg/m³)value. County-level and higher data are aggregated from 10 kilometer square spatial resolution grids.

https://wonder.cdc.gov/controller/datarequest/D73

Largest Emitters of Volatile Organic Pollutants in NY State

Today's chart looks at major industrial emitters of VOC in our state. The state's largest emitter of volatile organic compounds is the Pactiv Factory in Canadaigua which makes disposable polysytrene food service containers. The second largest VOC polluter in the state is Dupont Yerkes Plant in Tonawanda, which makes laminate for counter tops.

Organic compounds are chemicals that contain carbon and are found in all living things. Volatile organic compounds, sometimes referred to as VOCs, are organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases. Along with carbon, they contain elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur or nitrogen. Volatile organic compounds are released from burning fuel, such as gasoline, wood, coal, or natural gas. They are also emitted from oil and gas fields and diesel exhaust. They are also released from solvents, paints, glues, and other products that are used and stored at home and at work. Many volatile organic compounds are also hazardous air pollutants. Volatile organic compounds, when combined with nitrogen oxides, react to form ground-level ozone, or smog, which contributes to climate change. Examples of volatile organic compounds are gasoline, benzene, formaldehyde, solvents such as toluene and xylene, styrene, and perchloroethylene (or tetrachloroethylene), the main solvent used in dry cleaning.

This is 2013 Year Data, the most recent available.

Data Source: Title V Emissions Inventory, Year 2013. https://data.ny.gov/Energy-Environment/Title-V-Emissions-Inventory-Beginning-2010/4ry5-tfin

Largest Sources of NOx Industrial Emissions in New York

The largest source of industrial emissions (Title V) of nitrogen oxides in New York State is the 675-MW Somerset Power Generating station in Barker, along Lake Ontario in Niagara County. This plant is no longer economic to run and without nearby supply of natural gas, it is expected to be fully retired in the next few years. After Somerset Generating station, the state's second largest source of NOx is LaFarge aka Blue Circle Cement in Coeymans. Eastman Business Park's Coal Fired Power Plant and Cayuga Generating Station, another coal fired plant, are other large NOx emitters in our state. Then there are many other fossil fuel burning plants and other industrial sources of NOx emissions in our state. Not shown on the chart is non-industrial sources of NOx, including automobiles and agriculture.

NOx is a generic term for the mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide). They are produced from the reaction among nitrogen, oxygen and even hydrocarbons (during combustion), especially at high temperatures. In areas of high motor vehicle traffic, such as in large cities, the amount of nitrogen oxides emitted into the atmosphere as air pollution can be significant. NOx gases are formed whenever combustion occurs in the presence of nitrogen – as in an air-breathing engine; they also are produced naturally by lightning. In atmospheric chemistry, the term means the total concentration of NO and NO2. NOx gases react to form smog and acid rain as well as being central to the formation of tropospheric ozone.

This is 2013 Year Data, the most recent available.

Data Source: Title V Emissions Inventory, Year 2013. https://data.ny.gov/Energy-Environment/Title-V-Emissions-Inventory-Beginning-2010/4ry5-tfin