Air pollution causes health problems. This is well known and widely accepted, and this awareness is heightened in New York City where asthma is the leading cause of missed school days in NYC’s poorest neighborhoods.
Council Member Constantinides, who represents the north western corner of Queens (District 22), has introduced two pieces of legislation to not only provide immediate help for children with asthma, but to also collect data to study the problem. Bill INT. 1709 would require the Department of Health to “create annual reports on the prevalence of asthma and associated hospitalizations in the city, disaggregated by age, race, education, and community district”.
In 2015, City Council passed a new law, ruling that #6 and #4 heating oils before 2020 and 2030, respectively, while promoting cleaner burning bio-fuels. While this is a significant step in the right direction, there are still other localized challenges such as particulate matter from truck traffic and generating stations, both of which disproportionately plague low-income neighborhoods. Better data collection will enhance the ability of policymakers identify environmental asthma triggers. That way, we can isolate them and take steps to address them. Several other US cities are taking similar action, and data-driven methods are already proving results in Louisville.
Now that sustainability and air quality improvement are top priorities in NYC, it is time to focus on the localized air quality issues plaguing New York neighborhoods. NYLCV looks forward to working with Council Member Constantinides to advance these bills to to improve how we track and manage asthma in New York City.