An Environmental Health Diagnosis by Liam Fitzgerald Sophomore, Tamarac High School
ABSTRACT This report presents an opening environmental health assessment of New York County, New York. The research was done through data produced by government agencies, news reports, and through an interview with a technician at the New York City Soil and Water Conservation. The report identifies key environmental issues and the main stakeholders in New York County, presents new ideas, challenges, and opportunities. The information found during the research process ranges from the population and quality of life to the water quality and how people can help. The research found may be different from the observations of environmental groups, officials, and residents of New York County. The report can be used as a baseline for New York County residents and stakeholders concerning environmental events in the county.
2014: Brewer is elected as borough president 2014: de Blasio elected as NYC mayor 2012: Hurricane Sandy Strikes NYC 1524: French explorer Giovanni de Verrazano visits present day NYC 1609: Columbus discovers and maps present day Manhattan Island 1624: New Amsterdam is established 2001: Terrorist Attacks on WTC 2001: Final landfill in NYC closes 1825: Opening of Erie Canal (Connected Atlantic Port to Midwest) 1898: Consolidation of 3 counties into NYC New York County 1904: Establishment of NYC subway system 1925: Manhattan takes over as “world’s most popular city (previously London) 1857: Central Park opens 1990’s: Crime rates drop dramatically
METHODS Methods used to complete the research regarding the environmental health of New York County included various websites, news articles, database articles and government data, interviews with county workers and officials. An interview was conducted with Ms. Tatianna Morin, a storm water technician with the New York City Soil and Water District (NYCSWD). Ms. Morin gave great insight into urban agriculture and the different projects that the NYCSWD were currently involved with.
Garbage Disposal Case Study: Garbage Disposal Garbage is certainly one natural resource in the New York City area that will never run out. It is estimated that on average, New Yorkers produce about 36,200 tons of garbage every single day. (Cohen) New York City ’ s Department of Sanitation reports that they handle approximately 13,000 tons of waste each day produced by residents, public agencies, and non- profit organizations. Private carting companies (Waste Management) control the rest of the city ’ s trash. The problem with all this trash is that the city of New York is running out of places to put it for “ safe keeping ”. In December of 2001, the last open garbage dump in the city, Fresh Kills Landfill located in Staten Island, New York, closed for good. Mayor Bloomberg ’ s response to zero open land fills was a 20-year plan for exporting the city ’ s waste outside of city limits. Although the plan is much better than the few who argue to dump all of NYC ’ s garbage into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it still has more than its fair share of additional hazards to the environment. The waste process involves picking up the trash with trucks that use “ high polluting diesel fuel ”, it is then transferred to waste transfer stations (generally located in very poor neighborhoods), it is then when the city scoops the garbage off the floors and scoops them onto even larger trucks that produce even more “ high polluting diesel fuel ”. These trucks travel outside of the city and transport this trash to energy incinerators outside of New York City.
Lead Poisoning Case Study: Lead Poisoning Lead poisoning is an acute or chronic poisoning due to the absorption of lead into the body. (Mayo Clinic) Lead poisoning and specifically lead poisoning in children, although improving, continues to be a major concern of the county officials. Many officials are pointing a finger at the housing apartments for lack of paint regulation exposing the children to the lead. (Nyc.gov) A person can get lead poisoning by swallowing a lead objects like paint chips, breathing in lead dust, or drinking water with high lead levels. Lead exposure is used a sign of both environmental health and poverty in a certain area. The long term effects of lead poisoning and exposure to lead include elevated blood lead levels, high blood pressure higher risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) It is also notable that in many cases an area of poverty-stricken people has a higher rate to lead exposure than an area of affluent citizens (cdc.gov).
Disaster Readiness Case Study: Disaster Readiness Hurricane Sandy killed a total of 56 and injured hundreds more in the New York County area. The storm stood as a statement as a need for storm and disaster readiness in the New York County/NYC area. The NYC Emergency Response Dpt. has the responsibility of creating evacuation strategies and forming new ideas to avoid destruction in NYC. Many concerned citizens believe more is needed (new infrastructure) Researchers & engineers have teamed up to decide whether it will be a better strategy to build a “sea wall” or build up better infrastructure to withstand a major storm.
ENERGY Types of Fuel Mix's New York County National Non-Hydro Renewables 1% 4 % Hydro 0% 6.2% Nuclear 40% 19.6 % Oil 1% Gas 57% 24 % Coal 0%44.8 %
Air Quality Comparisons AIR QUALITY Unhealthy air days for general population in 2012. Unhealthy air days for people with asthma in 2012 Since 2003, has air quality for asthmatics improved or gotten worse? New York County02IMPROVED Essex County 0 4IMPROVED Rennselaer County 0 0IMPROVED
Watershed WATERSHED HEALTH Watershed name: Atlantic Ocean/Long Island Sounds What percentage of rivers have poor water quality? What percentage of lakes have poor water quality? Overall percentage with poor water quality? 30% 8%N/A What percentage of rivers have good water quality? What percentage of lakes has good water quality? Overall percentage with good water quality? 17%1%N/A
About EcoEd & Mentors Rensselaer's EcoEd Research Group involves faculty and students in the development and delivery of creative, interdisciplinary environmental education to K-12 students. The goal is to extend the broad impact of humanities and social science research on environmental problems through translation into hands-on exercises through which young students develop capacity to deal effectively with environmental problems, and with complex problems in general - integrating many types of knowledge. EcoEd’s 2014 Secondary School Research Program was a nine-week program in which secondary school students investigated the environmental health of a particular New York State county. Through research, they were able to diagnose each county’s environmental health problems, and provide possible solutions for each region. Students are paired with a college mentor that guides them through research activities, such as interview skills, finding and evaluating sources, examining environmental indicators, and constructing case studies. This work culminates in a final report, presentation, and this poster.
Background New York County (Manhattan) is one of the original counties of New York State. It is located on Manhattan Island, surrounded by the Harlem River, East River, and Hudson River. The population of New York County is 1.619 million people and the area is 22.96 square miles (U.S. Census Bureau 2012). This makes Manhattan the most densely populated borough in the city of New York, most densely populated county in the state of New York, and the sixth densest populated city in the nation (Williams 2014). The current borough president of Manhattan is Democrat Gale Brewer. New York County is home to many of New York’s famous trademarks, including Times Square, the Broadway Theater District, Empire State Building, New York Stock Exchange (Wall Street), headquarters of the United Nations, and the Chrysler Building. These attractions and venues bring more than 50 million tourists to New York County each year (The Official Website of the city of New York). Another reason for the high population of New York County is that is considered a global and regional hub for culture, education, and industry. Manhattan is a central location for people in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT).
Recommendations ProblemRecommendation Diesel Garbage Trucks Transporting to other NYS regions via barges Hurricane Risks Building storm walls and other infrastructure Developing strong evacuation policy Lead Exposure Enforcement of existing laws and regulations Air QualityHybrid taxis Energy SourcesExpansion of rooftop solar panel use
Sources "Carbon Visuals." : New York's carbon emissions. http://www.carbonvisuals.com/work/new-yorks- carbon-emissions-in-real-time (accessed March 31, 2014). Cohen. 2010. “Wasted: New York City’s Trouble with Disposal”, 8–5. Environmental Protection Agency. "U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report." EPA. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html (accessed April 15, 2014). “Lead Posioning Prevention.” 2014.The Official Website of the City of New York. 1. “National Poverty Rates.” 2013. U.S. Census Bureau 2012, 1. Steve Hargreaves. 2013. “Solar Power in the Big Apple.”CNNMoney, 3–14. Tatianna Morin. 2014. “Soil and Water Health in NYC.” "The 2012 Statistical Abstract." - U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ (accessed April 5, 2014). Weaver, Terri. "NY Safe Act meeting with Cuomo." syracuse.com. http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/02/ny_safe_act_meeting_with_cuomo_yields_frank _talk_but_no_promises_of_changes_to_l.html (accessed March 31, 2014).