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Air Quality Monitoring Along the 14th Street Busway: Public Health Impacts in an Urban Planning Context

This capstone, in partnership with the Regional Plan Association, provides an opportunity to assess a methodological process used to measure air pollution in the built environment. In October 2019, NYC converted 14th Street into a “busway” by placing restrictions on the hours cars could drive along 14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues. Measured PM​₂.₅ concentrations along 14th Street provided a glimpse into the potential reduction in air pollution attributable to vehicular traffic. Data from low-cost air monitors can be used as a tool for urban planners, elected officials, community advocates and policy makers to call for greater action. Dynamic sensing such as used in this capstone monitors the air quality along a path in order to replicate the hyper-local air quality environment a NYC resident might experience and subsequent inhalation exposure to particulate matter. Results from this study show differences in air quality between 14th Street and 23rd Street for PM​₂.₅ concentrations, as well as AM versus PM concentration differences within each street. Box-and-whisker plots were used to examine the summary statistics and spread of data collected for each street. The entire quartile range for 14th Street was 2 μg/m³ ​while the third and fourth quartile ranges for 23rd Street spanned 5-9 μg/m³. Though the difference in acute exposure is relatively small, there is some potential for a difference in negative health outcomes between 14th Street and 23rd Street based on cumulative effects of a double to quadruple increase in PM​₂.₅ exposure long-term. The results from this project are important because they show a measurable difference in PM​₂.₅ concentrations between 14th Street and 23rd Street which may be associated with the recent urban planning intervention to convert 14th Street from 3rd Avenue to 9th Avenue into a busway. It is imperative more studies investigate the relationship between urban planning and public health to better understand how the built environment can be used as a tool for public health.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Hutson, Malo A.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 12, 2020