Improvement of Air Quality

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Air quality is one of the biggest determinants of the existence of life in the universe. Not only does existence is supported by air other non-life activities such as combustion is affected by means of the air quality. The quality of air is determined by the composition of the atmospheric gases at any unique moment or time. The case study Improvement of Air Quality: Case Studies from New York State compares the air quality tendencies in five biggest cities in New York State. The cities considered encompass Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo and New York City. The authors indicate that nationwide air pollutants have decreased significantly. The authors as a result argue that assessment of historical data on air pollution can be utilized to design and implement mitigation factors that are aimed at controlling air pollution and improving air quality especially in developing countries where the burden of pollution is currently affecting the areas. The present essay is an abstract of Buckley and Mitchell (93-106) case study on air quality improvement in New York State.

Case Summary

The levels of air quality fluctuate based on regions depending on the various factors such as meteorology, proximity to sources of various elements and on local conditions like topography as well as artificial activities in an area. The Northeast of the USA in which New York State is located is subjected to air pollution from sources such as local inputs and from the Mid-West that are transferred by the wind and other meteorological effects and patterns (Buckley and Mitchell 94). The study utilized the data obtained from the New York State (NYS) DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION from which the Bureau of Air Quality Surveillance provided the required data on the observed trends on air quality.

The authors report that the efforts to improve the quality of air in the USA began in 1970 when the Clear Air Act (CAA) was passed by the Congress to oversee the protection of the atmosphere from air pollutants (Buckley and Mitchell 94). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed during the same period to enforce and support the efforts towards protecting the environment. CAA requires control of air pollution at their sources. The control at the source is aimed at reducing emissions by using appropriate technologies to avert potential problems that may arise due to the emission of gas pollutants. The methods and technologies employed are also aimed to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). NAAQS sets primary and secondary standards. The primary standards are aimed at protecting the environment against the adverse effects on human health while the secondary standards protect against the adverse effects on public welfare. Six components (pollutants) are chosen as the criteria for determining the levels of air quality. The pollutants are particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and lead (Pb). The criteria above were designed by NAAQS to offer particular levels to which amount of the respective components should reach (Buckley and Mitchell 105). Despite the enforcement of the efforts put in place to curb air pollution, it is reported that the attainment of the threshold levels of the air composition has been a major challenge, especially in urban areas.

High levels of air pollutants are said to cause a wide range of environmental and health problems with further reports indicating that despite the successes associated with the reduction of pollutant levels the future of a number of pollutants are likely to be affected by climate change. Increased emissions from vehicles and industries are also another factor that is reported to put the efforts aimed reducing air pollution at risk. The pollution transported from other parts of the developing world is also reported as a potential source of contamination. The authors recognize that to assess the effects of the various factors on the air pollution it is necessary to document the recent trends as observed in the atmospheric pollution by the varying concentration of air pollutants. Urban areas are associated with elevated levels of air pollutants due to the high population density and sources such as traffic and industries. The authors estimate that 95% of all the air pollution in urban areas comes from the combustion of internal engines.

Even though the developed countries have significantly been successful in reducing the levels of pollutants in the atmosphere the developing nations are facing a similar problem of dealing with atmospheric pollution. A similar pattern is reported as the developed nations were at one during the course of their development faced the problem of dealing with elevated levels of air pollutants. The authors established a relationship between income and the air quality with low income associated with poor quality while high income-earning countries are associated with improved and better quality of air. The authors thus recommend that the developing nations can learn lessons from the developed world on how to reduce and manage the sources of pollution with the aim of improving air quality. Such lessons can thus be applied in controlling air contamination in rapidly developing urban centers.

In examining the historical air quality trends regarding the six criteria in Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo and New York City the authors assessed trends in the criteria pollutants from 1980 to 2007 and made comparisons with other NYS cities (Buckley and Mitchell 100). Further comparisons were done with the nationwide trends regarding the criteria. In all the five cities examined the authors demonstrated significantly decreasing trends in all the six criteria. Further data indicated that the decrease in the levels varied with the particular cities. New York City, for instance, is reported to have shown greatest decrease in the levels of gas contaminants. On the other had Albany is reported as not having any significant decreasing trends.


The discussed paper asserts that air pollution can negatively impact both the human health and environment. It is thus necessary that constant efforts are taken to control, monitor and manage the factors that influence the levels of air contaminants and hence influencing the quality of air. Nationwide air pollutants have decreased significantly as such the assessment of historical data on air pollution can be utilized to design and implement mitigation factors. The authors hold that levels of air pollutant vary depending on several factors such as meteorological dynamics among others. The stance of the present paper is that the authors have sufficiently addressed the issue of air pollution with such discussions coming at an appropriate time when the world is experiencing widespread environmental challenges. The case studies provided can be useful to the developing countries who are struggling to control the constantly elevating levels of air contaminants.

Work Cited

Buckley, Shannon M., and Myron J. Mitchell. “Improvements in urban air quality: Case studies from New York State, USA.” Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 214.1-4 (2011): 93-106.

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