Sunday, July 5, 2009

New York is full of soot

From the NY Times:

It’s another price of living in New York: call it the dirt tax.

The dirt tax appears in cleaning costs, replacement costs and even the inability of New York homeowners to consider certain finishes and fabrics because they’re just not practical.

Not in a city where schmutz — the preferred New York term for the black gritty material — accumulates on every surface.

White rugs and sofas can become filthy anywhere. But experts (who include anyone who has ever dusted, vacuumed or swabbed in the five boroughs) say New York City’s dirt level is highly unusual.

The culprit is soot, said Richard Kassel, an air pollution expert with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.

In one study cited by Mr. Kassel, soot in one stretch of Midtown Manhattan was found to contain 52 percent diesel exhaust, mostly from trucks, buses and construction vehicles. The other 48 percent was a mix of everything from ground-up car tires to sea salt, he said.


Missing Foundation said...

No problem lets calmly talk about adding another - oh lets pick a nice big impressive number that will impress people - how about a million?

Push bikes and green roofs and problems solved!

Anonymous said...

Yea, so where is the famed green lobby in NYC?

Can they get their asses off the bikes and out of the kayacks and say something useful?

Anonymous said...

The panacea for everything (at least in Queens) are those "exciting" dragon boat races held each year in FMCP park.

Hey...fughettaboutit...and just ignore everything else.

With the clubhouse in control all is well...heh, heh!

Bread and circuses courtesy of Emperor Bloomberg.

Lino said...

Bad as it is, the air here in NYC is much improved from the 1960s. In fact it was in 1966 that an inversion kept the city's pollution at such high levels that over 160 people died during three days that autumn.

Requiring incinerators install scrubber pumps and eventually banning them entirely.

Requiring pollution controls on vehicles. Phasing out coal fired boilers.

-All- of the measures elicited howls of "you'll kill industry" led to NYC have much improved air quality in the last 30 years.

I remember coming back from summers in Montaulk late 60s-70's you could actually feel the grit in your eyes and on your neck for a few days 'till you got used to it.

Today, when I go to my place in Bangkok I have the same sensation. -Really- bad over there.

BTW: Many of the old hyper polluting buses and trucks that could not be upgraded economically to lessen emissions were sold to Mexico where that helped turn the famously excellent air quality of Mexico City into the disaster that it still is today, that and overpopulation.

Erik Baard said...

Sorry that my kayak was belching soot. Was it something I ate?

Anyway, more barging and rails, less trucking. More mass transit, fewer cars. Radically cleaner engines for all commercial vehicles.

"Greens" have been pushing these things for years. Inertia and petty-mindedness is hard to overcome.

The kayaking aspect is important because:

1) Diesel particle emissions are localized so getting kids kayaking and into green parks (not really astroturfy parks) immediately helps them - especially those with asthma.

2) People care about nature (and therefore become active to defend it) when they have access to it - a sense of it belonging to them equally. That's why we have no paid public programs and no membership fees.

3) After manufactureand shipping, kayaking, like biking, has no sooty emissions at all. The person breathes out some increased steam and CO2, but that's pretty minimal! :)

Cities don't have to choke on soot. We have much less pollution than we used to, but we can do far better.

And hey, plant trees and care for them!

Anonymous said...

thank you "Lino"---remember only too well the black soot coming through "closed" windows back when we had coal fired power plants and cleaning the window sills at least once a day and the apartment houses incinerators,furnaces etc --mygawd.
Most had a more simplistic view of it all,that being "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and truly there was no epidemic proportions of asthmatic children among us either....talking grammar school years for our group- 50s-late 60s.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Astoria--where it is still 1970. I have to buy an asmatic neighbor of mine coffee so that she can breathe on a regular basis and I am not doing well myself.

I hope that the city will plant trees on every square piece of ground and ship some of the power generation out of my area. I prefer not to drop dead so Manhattanites can see cable.

Anonymous said...

Eat red apples,pectin,yeah,that's the ticket.I'm going to take a ride in my 4,400lb suv now.i'm going to prospect park to watch the animal sacrifices.

Frank said...

(Anon 7/5/09: "Yea, so where is the famed green lobby in NYC?

Can they get their asses off the bikes and out of the kayacks and say something useful?")

I think NYers simply accept it as the price of commerce, culture, and world supremacy.

NYers are actually proud of being "gritty." Metaphor is powerful: the grit of soot becomes the NYism of schmutz, and from there it becomes the elemental stuff of NYness.