Historical Connection:

Settled Matter/Soot-fall
1935 Study of New York Air Pollution

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Citizens of New York City were asked to put soup cans on their roof for one month to collect settled particulate matter. W.P.A. workers collected 130 cans from all 5 of the burroughs and created the first air quality study.

Air Quality Monitoring Devices
Roof of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, Manhattan
Ink Gathering Day 1:
Subway to Jamica Bay

The Urban Ecology of NYC Starts with a Knowledge of the Land Under Our Feet

More than 40 acres of land disappears from under our feet each year in the 26,000 acre, Gateway National Recreation Area. Home to over 500 species of plant and wildlife, this urban estuary reflects the resilience of nature in New York City. The dialog with Gillian Stewart was geared towards her research on the dust that settles on the surface water of the periphery of NYC. The particles that gather here tells about the consumption patterns and particulate matter coming from within the city, but also from around the world.

Futurefarmers took participants on the A Train to Gillian Stewart's 2007 research site where they walked barefoot upon what remains the most ecologically diverse landscape in NYC. At once, the heat of the sand unveiled their frailty as shoe wearing, cement stomping beings.

Gillian Stewart

Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queens College, CUNY (Ph.D. in Coastal Oceanography from Stony Brook University, B.A. in Biology from Harvard University), is a native New Yorker and dedicated environmental educator. The Stewart Lab is currently investigating the link between the oceanic carbon cycle and marine biodiversity and seasonality in the Sub-Artic Pacific and North Atlantic, as well as the role of atmospheric dust in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the deep ocean.
Ink Gathering Day 2:
Subway Queens College Air Quality Monitoring Site

Particle pollution and Other Pedestrian Encounters

A large portion of NY apartments heat themselves using residual oil (aka No. 2 oil). A black smoke emits from smoke stacks and coats Manhattan with a dark particulate matter. Many of these remaining oil heated apartments are in the upper west side (one of the highest economic brackets) and the effects of their smoke are felt on the periphery of New York City where there are high rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease and over 150 related deaths per year. It is said that the amount these apartments spend on fresh flowers in their hallways costs more than it would to replace their heating systems with cleaner systems.
-Institute for Policy Integrity.

Dr. Thomas Matte (New York City Community Air Survey) and David Wheeler (Dept. of Environmental Conservation NYC) led us through busy urban canyons, quieter side streets and a park.

Thomas Matte

Professor of Urban Public Health in the Environmental and Occupational Health Science track at Hunter College and the CUNY School of Public Health. Matte developed the New York City Community Air Survey, a landmark study of variation in street-level air pollution exposure across the city, and directed studies to improve risk assessment, surveillance, and preparedness related to summer heat waves in NYC.

David Wheeler

A licensed engineer working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Division of Air Resources since 1993. For the last 7 years he has been in charge of the state's ambient air monitoring program in the New York City Metropolitan Area. His unit is responsible for regional air monitoring, including over thirty ambient air quality monitoring stations throughout NYC.

Additionally, Mr. Wheeler was involved with the establishment of a network of samplers to detect a release of biological agents within New York City.