Evaluating the Impact of the Clean Heat Program on Air Pollution Levels in New York City

Zhang, Lyuou; He, Mike Zhongyu; Gibson, Elizabeth A.; Perera, Frederica P.; Lovasi, Gina S.; Clougherty, Jane E.; Carrión, Daniel; Burke, Kimberly; Fry, Dustin; Kioumourtzoglou, Marianthi-Anna

Residual heating oil is a class of heavy oil that remains after the lighter components are distilled away from crude oil in the refining process (EIA 2020) and has been linked to adverse health outcomes (Bell et al. 2009). In New York City (NYC), residual heating oil has been identified as a major source of multiple air pollutants, including fine particulate matter [PM less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM₂.₅)] (Clougherty et al. 2010; Kheirbek et al. 2014), sulfur dioxide (SO₂), nitrogen oxides (NOₓ) (U.S. EPA 1998), and black carbon (Cornell et al. 2012). Prior to policy implementation, three types of heating oil were used in NYC: heating oil #4, #6, and ultra-low sulfur oil #2. Both #6 and #4 are referred to as residual heating oils, and oil #2, which is the lightest of the three, has been considered a cleaner alternative (Kheirbek et al. 2014). In 2012, NYC established the Clean Heat Program (CHP) to eliminate the use of residual heating oil and move toward cleaner energy forms (Hernández 2016). Here, we have evaluated the CHP outcomes, quantified the CHP-attributable air pollution reductions between 2012 and 2016, and assessed if and how these reductions vary by neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). We aim to contribute to the knowledge of CHP effects since its implementation, assess relevant equity issues, and inform future policy improvements.

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Environmental Health Perspectives

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Environmental Health Sciences
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June 28, 2023