Air quality in New York City

Air quality index (AQI) and PM2.5 air pollution in New York City

LAST UPDATE (local time)

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Weather

What is the current weather in New York City?

WeatherClear sky
Temperature78.8°C
Humidity78%
Wind6.9 mp/h
Pressure1015 mb
Air pollution has cost an estimated2,900 deaths*in New York City in 2020LEARN MORE*Air pollution also cost approximately $6,800,000,000 USD in New York City in 2020.

live aqi city ranking

Real-time USA city ranking

#cityUS AQI
1Klamath

175

2Swissvale

158

3Union

143

4Avon

122

5Frisco

114

6Edwards

113

7Pittsburgh

110

8McKeesport

108

9Wilkinsburg

107

10Edgewood

105

(local time)

SEE WORLD AQI RANKING

live New York City aqi ranking

Real-time New York City air quality ranking

#stationUS AQI
1EMP037

58

2The Caedmon School

58

3State route 143

54

4Queens

47

5Fresh Kills West

43

6Queens Near-road

28

7Maspeth

19

8Public School 274

5

9 City College of new York

3

10Pfizer Lab

3

(local time)

SEE WORLD AQI RANKING

New York City webcam

5:57, Aug 11

Is there air pollution in New York City?

US AQI

58

live AQI index
Moderate

Overview

What is the current air quality in New York City?

Air pollution levelAir quality indexMain pollutant
Moderate58 US AQIPM2.5
PollutantsConcentration
PM2.5
15.4 µg/m³

Health Recommendations

How to protect from air pollution in New York City?

Close your windows to avoid dirty outdoor air
Sensitive groups should reduce outdoor exercise

Forecast

New York City air quality index (AQI) forecast

DayPollution levelWeatherTemperatureWind
Saturday, Aug 8

Good28 US AQI

Sunday, Aug 9

Good50 US AQI

Monday, Aug 10

Moderate55 US AQI

Today

Moderate82 US AQI

face icon
weather icon86°77°

8.9 mp/h

Wednesday, Aug 12

Moderate68 US AQI

face icon
weather icon78.8°73.4°

6.7 mp/h

Thursday, Aug 13

Moderate54 US AQI

face icon
weather icon73.4°71.6°

11.2 mp/h

Friday, Aug 14

Moderate57 US AQI

face icon
weather icon75.2°69.8°

13.4 mp/h

Saturday, Aug 15

Good33 US AQI

face icon
weather icon71.6°68°

15.7 mp/h

Sunday, Aug 16

Moderate81 US AQI

face icon
weather icon75.2°69.8°

13.4 mp/h

Interested in hourly forecast? Get the app

Historical

Historic air quality graph for New York City

How to best protect from air pollution?

Reduce your air pollution exposure in New York City

AIR QUALITY ANALYSIS AND STATISTICS FOR New York City

What is the air quality in New York City?

Despite being the most populous city in the United States, New York City has relatively clean air on average. For the last three years (2017, 2018, and 2019), New York’s air quality index (AQI) has remained less than 50, or “good.” The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “good” air quality as air that poses little to no risk to health.


PM2.5, or fine particulate matter, is a dangerous and prevalent air pollutant, widely regarded as one of the most harmful to human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) uses a slightly more stringent threshold for PM2.5 levels than the US EPA (< 10 μg/m3). Since at least 2017, New York air quality has consistently fallen within this target (2017, 2018, and 2019 averaged 6.8, 7, and 7 μg/m3 respectively). These annual PM2.5 levels are comparable to the air quality of Taos, New Mexico and Waco, Texas (6.9 and 6.8 μg/m3, respectively).


While low PM2.5 levels meeting the < 10 μg/m3 target are recommended, the WHO advises that no level of exposure has been shown to be free of health impacts.1 Current New York air pollution levels continue to threaten communities, particularly lower-income neighborhoods, and raise the risk for heart and lung health complications. The New York Health Department estimates that PM2.5 pollution contributes to more than 3,000 deaths and 2,000 hospital admissions for coronary and respiratory conditions annually.2 A PM2.5 reduction of 10% could reduce the number of deaths and hospital emissions by 300 and 200, respectively. Majid Ezzati, from Imperial’s School of Public Health, concluded in a recent study that further lowering the PM2.5 standard below the current level can provide an opportunity to save more lives and equalize the health of New York residents across income levels.3


While annual averages for particulate pollution pass most guidelines, the city continues to struggle with ozone pollution. Ozone is among the most dangerous gaseous pollutants and a critical component of smog. The State of the Air Report published by the American Lung Association gave New York City an “F” for ozone pollution.4 This rating was provided on the basis that 5.5 days in 2019 exceeded the national 8-hr ozone standard of 70 ppb.


A 2011 analysis found that roughly 10% of hospital visits for asthma in New York City are attributable to ozone pollution.5 Staten Island, Southern Brooklyn, Central Queens, and the Northwest Bronx have the highest ozone-related death rates.


While city-wide ozone has decreased significantly in the last three decades, ozone still presents one of the greatest environmental health threats to residents. Tackling ozone pollution is challenging, however, as it’s a gas pollutant that is created in the atmosphere from precursor pollutants reacting in sunlight. Precursor pollutants are sometimes emitted in other cities and states as well as from New York City’s high vehicle congestion. Rising temperatures as a result of climate change are expected to further exacerbate this problem.


Monitoring air pollution data and taking action to reduce pollution exposure are the first steps in protecting oneself from associated adverse health effects. Refer to the top of this page for New York’s forecast air quality data and live air quality data.

How polluted is New York City?

New York air quality has improved over the past several decades. More recent progress, however, has been relatively stagnant. 2017 to 2018 observed a very small increase in PM2.5 pollution of 0.2 μg/m3, while 2018 to 2019 remained unchanged in terms of annual PM2.5 average (7 μg/m3). A gradual shift towards more electric vehicles and cleaner energy provides an opportunity to drive emissions and pollution levels down further in the future.


In March of 2020, New York became the epicenter of the US COVID-19 outbreak. Lockdown measures were put in place on a state and city level in order to slow the spread of the virus. During this lockdown period, New York observed a 25% reduction in fine particle pollution (PM2.5) as compared to the same time period in 2019, according to the COVID-19 Air Quality Report. During the analyzed three-week period (March 23 - April 13, 2020), 100% of hours were in the best US AQI “good” category (up from 94% in 2019). Several hours experienced PM2.5 levels below 1.3 μg/m3 (or AQI 5), an extremely rare event for the largest city in the U.S., and while these reductions were brief, they provide insights into what could be achieved if the city depended on more electric or clean transport and reduced or cleaner industry.

Why is there unhealthy air quality in New York?

New York’s unhealthy air quality is primarily attributable to high ozone levels. Ozone occurs in the atmosphere when high temperatures (over 80°F) cause pollutants, nitrogen oxides, and reactive organic substances from vehicles and smokestack combustion to react. In 2019, New York was deemed “nonattainment” for ozone pollution as a result of several high pollution episodes.


Despite relatively strict emission controls, New York’s high population density and heavy vehicle traffic poses the city’s greatest challenge to tackling air pollution. The city has been legislating for ‘cleaner’ mass transport in hopes of further reducing traffic congestion.


While particle pollution meets annual “attainment” levels, as established by the US EPA, it still contributes to thousands of deaths and hospital visits annually. The majority of fine particles in New York City’s air originate from outside of the city, and local sources account for differences within the city. Primary sources include transport exhaust, particularly from cars, heavy-duty trucks, ships, and planes, industrial businesses on the city outskirts and residential buildings in New York City that burn residual fuel oil.


New York’s summer and winter are traditionally more polluted than the spring and fall. This trend is attributable to unique winter weather, including cool air inversions, and summer weather, including abundant sunshine that creates atmospheric ozone from precursor gases. New York’s most polluted months in 2019 for PM2.5 pollution were July (9.1 μg/m3), January (8.7 μg/m3), and December (8.4 μg/m3).


Explore New York’s air pollution map to observe how local emission sources (such as major roadways and burning residual oil) account for differences in PM2.5.



+ Article Resources


[1] Air quality guidelines – global update 2005. (2020).
www.who.int/airpollution/publications/aqg2005/en/

[2] Kheirbek I, et al. (2011). Air pollution and the health of New Yorkers: the impact of fine particles and ozone.
www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/eode/eode-air-quality-impact.pdf

[3] Bennett J, et al. (2019). Particulate matter air pollution and national and county life expectancy loss in the USA: A spatiotemporal analysis.
https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002856

[4] State of the Air – 2020. (2020).
http://www.stateoftheair.org/assets/SOTA-2020.pdf

[5] Crean S. (2014). While improving, city's air quality crisis quietly persists.
https://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5111-while-improving-quiet-crisis-air-quality-persists-new-york-city-asthma-air-pollution

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