New York City's air quality has reached the cleanest levels in more than 50 years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.
Since 2008, the level of sulfur dioxide in the air has dropped by 69 percent and since 2007 and the level of soot pollution has dropped by 23 percent. This is a result of over 400 heavy oil-burning buildings converting to clean natural gas.
These improved results are part of New York City's Clean Heat program, which targets the largest buildings with the most emissions. The program provides resources to buildings and works with organizations that can help make the switch to cleaner fuel.
Clean heat has led to improvements in air quality across the city and particularly in communities such as East Harlem and the South Bronx, which have the highest concentration of polluting activities.
Air pollution poses a major threat to the health of all New Yorkers, but especially young children, seniors, and those with chronic heart and lung disease, said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner.
Now because of the significant improvements in air quality, the Health Department estimates that 800 lives will be saved each year, and approximately 1,600 emergency department visits for asthma and 460 hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular issues will be prevented.