2015-04-15 / Features

LIC & Astoria Have Worst Pollution In The Borough

Looking north from Long Island City to Astoria. 
Jim.henderson Looking north from Long Island City to Astoria. Jim.henderson BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

New Yorkers are breathing air dirty enough to increase their risk for stroke and the worst pollution in the borough is in Long Island City and Astoria.

According to federal government standards, humans can safely ingest about 12 micrograms of pollution per cubic meter of air. The most polluted parts of the city have rates between 12.9 to 14.7 micrograms. The Gramercy Park neighborhood in Manhattan was dirtiest, registering at 14.17 micrograms.

Long Island City and Astoria have the highest particulate rates in Queens at 9.59 micrograms, while the Rockaways are the cleanest, at 7.58 micrograms according to the study, “Particulate Air Pollution And Carotid Artery Stenosis,” published in March by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Carotid artery stenosis is a condition associated with more than half of the strokes that occur in the United States each year and among the leading causes of death in the US.

Based on an analysis of cardiovascular screening tests for more than 300,000 people living in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the resulting study by Dr. Jonathan D. Newman found almost one in four had a greater risk of a narrowing of their arteries into the head and neck, diminishing the flow of oxygen to the brain, thereby causing strokes.

“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that air pollution is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Newman, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Using postal zip codes, researchers looked at the relationship between carotid artery stenosis and the levels of air pollution in each person’s home zip code based on air quality measurements collected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2003-2008.

Those people living in the top quarter of zip codes for air pollution measures were found to have a 24 percent greater risk of carotid artery stenosis than those living in the bottom quarter.

Very small particles, less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter known as fine particulate matter, was the focus of the study. Fine particulate matter is the most common form of air pollution coming mostly from vehicle exhaust fumes or coal or wood burning, leading Dr. Newman to emphasize the importance of reducing air pollution.

“For every one microgram increase in air pollution, your risk of carotid artery stenosis goes up by nine percent,” Newman said in a March 5 New York Daily News report.

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