Hurricane Sandy Response
Air Monitoring Results
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the request of New York City, operated two air curtain incinerators at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY to burn vegetative debris, largely from downed trees, gathered in the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy. These operations began on December 28, 2012 and ceased on February 14, 2013. An air curtain incinerator is a self-contained system that reduces wood debris to ash. It is equipped with air blowers that circulate the air to improve combustion and minimize emissions of fine particles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deployed eight fine particle monitors operating around the perimeter of Floyd Bennett Field to monitor for potential impacts of the air curtain devices. An EPA On-Scene Coordinator was on-site while the burning took place to monitor what was being burned and air quality at the field.
Levels of fine particles were measured by the monitors and averaged over a 24-hour period. Results from the monitors were compared to an established 24-hour health-based standard. That standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3). If the 24-hour standard was exceeded, the EPA notified the Army Corps and New York City.
Air Sampling Results
On November 19, 2012, EPA collected air samples from eight locations around Floyd Bennett Field to measure baseline concentrations of 119 different chemicals including, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, and dioxin. Exposure to these pollutants can have serious health effects, and in some cases, increase the risk of cancer. During the November 28 pilot burn, and EPA collected air samples from the eight sampling locations for analysis of the same parameters and chemicals. These samples were analyzed in a laboratory.
The baseline and pilot burn results were compared to screening values designed to protect people's health. There were 23 VOCs and one metal (sodium) detected in the baseline results. All the detected concentrations were below levels of concern. During the actual November 28 pilot burn there were 26 VOCs detected. All of the detected concentrations were below levels of concern and similar to the baseline results. There were no PAHs detected in the baseline results or pilot burn results, and no metals were detected in the pilot burn results. Dioxin was not detected in any of the baseline or pilot burn results.
Get the baseline and pilot burn sampling results summary table at https://www.epa.gov/sandy/data/burnsamplingsummary-11-28-2012.pdf
On January 8, 2013, an additional set of air sampling data was collected for VOCs, PAHs, metals, and dioxin. This latest sampling evaluated ongoing air curtain operations. The results from the latest round of air sampling data had 24 VOCs detected and one metal (barium) detected. All concentrations were below levels of concern and similar to the baseline results of November 19 and the pilot burn of November 28. There were no PAHs detected in latest burn results. Dioxin was not detected in the latest burn results.
Get the latest burn sampling results summary table at: https://epa.gov/region02/sandy/data/Pre_and_January_7-8_2013_Summary.pdf
Air Monitoring for Air Curtain Incinerator
From December 28 until the end of burning operations on February 14, results from operating monitors showed that the 24 hour standard has not been violated, except for January 9, 28, 29 and February 5. On those four days, one or more of the EPA's air monitors measured levels that exceeded the 24 hour standard. On all of the four days, overall weather conditions in NYC and most of the northeast and New York City resulted in an inversion in the air, which reduced the atmosphere's ability to mix and dilute pollution. For a more detailed discussion of each day, please see:
Update for January 10 | Update for January 29 | Update for January 30 | Update for February 6
In order to reduce the impacts of the air curtain devices at Floyd Bennett Field on air quality, steps were taken to limit the operation of the devices to reduce particle emissions.
The EPA has an established Air Quality Index reports daily air quality across the country. The index indicates how clean or polluted the air in a particular area is and what associated health effec ts might be a concern. For more information about the Air Quality Index, visit http://airnow.gov/.
Historical Results of EPA's air monitoring and the locations of the monitors can be found at:
The image below shows the location of the eight monitors, on Floyd Bennet Field, New York City, surrounding the air curtain burn device when it was in operation.