Posted on December 16, 2009
The Upper East Side of Manhattan may have wealthy residents, posh stores, elegant restaurants, and a kind of “Gossip Girl” elitism and glamour--but it also has among the highest levels of air pollution in the city. The first comprehensive study of street-level air quality was released yesterday by the City’s Department of Health. It showed, surprisingly, that New York’s Upper East Side and the Bronx have the highest levels of air pollution in the city. The highest levels of pollution are found in areas that have heavy car and truck traffic and a high concentration of buildings with oil heat. Washington Heights and midtown Manhattan also fared poorly in the survey, while the South Shore of Staten Island and Little Neck and Bayside n Queens were found to have the cleanest air. One hundred and fifty mounted sensors tracked pollutants like sulfur dioxide and elemental carbon as well as the airborne pollutants given off by oil heat. No. 4 and No. 6 oil are particularly bad. The pollutants contribute to asthma, irritate lungs, and can even lead to heart attacks. Ironically, New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg lives on the Upper East Side—and he’s a staunch advocate of clean air policies. (When the survey was released, he was—wait for it--in Copenhagen at the Clean Air/Global Warming Conference.) No word yet on whether Blair and Serena are moving.