What’s in the air? Particulate Matter Mapping on the Hunts Point Hustle

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2014 Hunts Point Hustle: Air Quality Sampling on 09/27/14


We had a great time watching participants run, trot, and walk through Hunts Point in what has become one of the most exciting community events in the neighborhood.  As a new addition this year, we took the opportunity to showcase our new air quality project on the race route.  Working with Habitat Map we aim to engage our local youth in sampling local air-quality by utilizing premiere technology made available by AirCasting.  What better time to kick off this project than during the 8th annual Hunts Point Hustle!?

In years past, The Hunts Point Hustle has attracted participants from all over the city as a means to showcase some of the intense industrial infrastructure that has taken up residence in Hunts Point, and for the first time, we are able to measure the quality of air that surrounds this infrastructure.

Figure 1: 2014 Hunts Point Hustle AirQuality Sampling of Particulate Matter 2.5 (pm2.5) – (1.) Pm2.5 spike near Bruckner Blvd. (2.) Pm2.5 spike near Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant (3.) Longest consistent trend of high levels of pm2.5 and an additional peak along the wall adjacent to the entrance to the Hunts Point Food Terminal (4.) Longest consistent trend of low levels of pm2.5


We will be monitoring pm2.5 – airborne particles of about 2.5 micrometers in diameter or roughly 1/20th the width of a human hair.  Particle counts that Saturday appeared to be relatively low with an average of 1006 hp/f3 (hundred particles per cubic foot.)  For comparison below, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) air monitoring station based in Hunts Point registered a below average reading for the morning of the Hustle when compared to the week of September 21st to September 28th.  We, along with the DEC and EPA, are interested in pm2.5 for a number of reasons including the fact that these particles in particular are known to be linked to the development of respiratory diseases such as asthma.  These particles are small enough to reach the deepest pockets of our lungs and even enter our blood stream.  What is still unclear is whether or not a safe level of exposure for pm2.5 exists.


Figure 2: Hunts Point Air Monitoring Station, IS-74’s results for the week of the Hustle. As you can see, pm2.5 counts for the morning of 09/27 (circled in green) were lower than the weekly average.


When looking at this data, it’s important to keep in mind that during this time on Saturday all trucks were cleared from the race route, which have contributed to what may be lower than normal readings.  After a quick analysis, we began to see a few trends.  At circle (1), it appears as though the particulate matter near the Bruckner Expressway was more densely clustered than almost anywhere else on the race course.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, food center drive at circle (4) – when blocked off from truck traffic – registered the most consistently low concentrations of this particulate matter.  Circle (2) highlights one of the 3 major peaks occurring right outside of the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, and circle (3) highlights the other peak located along the wall adjacent to the entrance to the Hunts Point Food Terminal.  Go ahead and take a peek at the attached picture for the highlights!


Figure 3: 2014 Hunts Point Hustle Air Quality Sampling of pm 2.5 in chart form with each of the peaks circled and labeled.

As always, air quality can be extremely fickle!  Air is blowing everywhere.  This is why AirCasting is so exciting.  Collecting data for particulate matter can begin to paint a picture of local air quality.  To begin to draw any conclusions though, more data must be collected.  We can’t wait continue this research with the assistance of many local and aspiring high-school student scientists, and furthermore, we would like to be on the ground collecting air-quality information during peaks like those that registered on the 22nd, 24th, & 28th.   Over the course of this project, they will take part in a carefully designed curriculum discussing air pollution in Hunts Point.

View the link: here.

For more information, please contact Case Wyse at cwyse@ssbx.org or 646-400-5428.

Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement X596298412-0 to the Sustainable
South Bronx, it has not gone through the Agency’s publications review process and, therefore, may
not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred.