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DEC says New York’s statewide air quality meets federal standard

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New Yorkers can breath easy: the state’s air quality now meets particulate-matter standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Reductions in particulate matter, also known as soot, in the New York City metropolitan area were the final hurdle for the state to reach its goal.

The findings were announced Tuesday by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Commissioner Joe Martens said air-quality improvements were “vital to protecting our environment and the health of New Yorkers.” The department recommended to the EPA that the state meet a stringent annual standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

Exposure to particle matter can cause irritation and breathing trouble, and worsen lingering medical conditions like asthma and heart disease, the DEC said.

Numbers are limited for measuring particulate matter in the north country. The closest places with such data are East Syracuse and Utica.

In East Syracuse, the annual mean pollution from 2009 to 2011 was 7.8 micrograms per cubic meter, while in Utica the same variable was measured at 8 micrograms per cubic meter.

The DEC’s monitoring station at Perch Lake, LaFargeville, measures only ozone levels. Average outputs from 2009 to 2011 at the station, 0.71 parts per million, were less than federal limits.

Air-quality concerns hit the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday when the court ruled 6 to 2 in favor of EPA regulations that imposed limits on smokestack emissions that cross state lines and burden downwind areas.

Mr. Martens, in a statement, said the ruling “will require polluting upwind sources to do their share, providing New Yorkers with cleaner, healthier air.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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