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Sat, Feb

Use of Dirty Heating Oil in NYC Concentrated Uptown

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Residential buildings in New York City that burn residual fuel oil were concentrated in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, as of late 2015. Compared to cleaner heating sources such as natural gas, these dirty fuels produce high levels of particulate matter, exposure to which is linked to asthma, obesity, developmental delays, and other health problems.

Residential buildings in New York City that burn residual fuel oil were concentrated in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, as of late 2015. Compared to cleaner heating sources such as natural gas, these dirty fuels produce high levels of particulate matter, exposure to which is linked to asthma, obesity, developmental delays, and other health problems.

Results of the study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health appear in the journal Environmental Research and Public Health.

New York City’s Clean Heat Program was launched in 2010 to eliminate the use of residual diesel fuel oils—diesel-based fuels that remain after gasoline and distillate fuels have been removed from crude—in residential buildings, in order to help address city air pollution levels that historically failed to meet the minimum criteria for federal Clean Air Act standards.

Under the program, residual fuel oil #6, the dirtiest type, was banned in 2015. According to city data sources, as of November 2015, only 19 residential buildings were still using this fuel type, including 10 buildings in the Bronx, eight in Lower Manhattan, and 1 in Queens. Residual fuel oil #4, which won’t be banned until 2030, continued to be burned by 3,253 residential buildings, despite the city’s efforts to educate and incentivize owners to switch to cleaner fuels. Of these buildings, 1,724 or 53 percent were clustered in Manhattan north of 110th Street and the Bronx—disproportionately higher than the area’s population (only one-fifth of city residents live in these neighborhoods).

Read more at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Image credit: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health (Data in image: Clean Heat, 2015 and American Communicty Survey, 2015)