Reports & Research

The Public Health Benefits of Reducing Fine Particulate Matter Through Conversion to Cleaner Heating Fuels in New York City

Nov 3, 2014

This ICF International report, written collaboratively with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Mayor's office, examines an air quality modeling analysis that assesses the effects of mandated changes in heating fuels on ambient air quality and health in the New York City area.

Scenarios reflecting no action, partial, and complete phase-out of high-sulfur heating fuels due to recent regulations were estimated with the Community MultiScale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. The model was applied for an annual simulation period using a high-resolution (1-km) grid to assess the effects on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in a five-borough area. For each of the scenarios, the CMAQ modeling results were used as input to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) to assess health impacts, including premature mortality and morbidity, in 42 city neighborhoods.

The results of the analysis showed that the complete phase-out scenario reduces annual PM2.5 citywide, avoiding an estimated 290 premature deaths, 180 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and 550 emergency department visits for asthma each year. The largest improvements were seen in areas with the highest density of buildings and population.

By Jay Haney and Sharon Douglas