Affect of Air Pollution in NYC


Imagine you are standing on a beach, a beach that uses barely any cars- mostly bikes and walking. This beach is extremely careful about the environment, as they want to preserve the quality of their environment. Imagine you take a long, deep breath in. It fills your lungs with ocean salt and fresh, clean, chilly air. Now walk to NYU’s campus. Walk towards a construction zone. Take in a deep, long breath. How different is that breath?


Air Pollution. It seems like we’ve heard about it our entire lives- but do we really understand how important it is to try and solve this problem? Not only for our environment, but for people as well. Air Pollution in New York affects different people and also


Manhattan has a grade “D” in its Ozone levels, and a grade “C” in particle pollution, according to the New York “State of the air Report”. This isn’t great. In my environmental studies class last semester, we learned a lot about air pollution and how it affects us- even though we may not notice it on a day to day basis. I watched a vidoe on China’s air pollution- which is a level that is twice of what the US Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous to human health. The toxicity is so bad that it is a smog- which covers the city of Beijing for a majority of the year.


Every day, I walk from my apartment on 2nd avenue and 4th street to campus. I take the same route- simply straight down 4th street. Until the time for this project came along, I had never really examined what was happening on my walk. As I walked today, I noticed many things. I saw three people wearing medical face masks, as well as multiple construction workers. As I walked through the construction, I had to hold my breath.



What got to me most was the east and west rivers. I am a runner, and as a runner, I need good lungs. Breathing in Ozone and air pollution can cause wheezing, coughing, chest pain, increased asthmatic episodes and other health problems. Because New York City is such an urban place, the east and west rivers are next to high ways. As I walked down to the river, my daily running routes, I noticed the amount of air pollution- the fact that breathing in this air wasn’t the same as breathing in air when I am at home in Florida.


I ended up placing Schobein strips around NYU’s construction sites. When I went back to check the strips a couple hours later, they had turned almost fully darkened to a purple like color. This is serious. This is something that can and will affect not only us in the long run, but our children, and their children. We need to preserve the Earth for generations to come, and destroy it to the point where it is destroying us.


Affect means to have an affect on, to touch the feelings of someone or move them emotionally.  In “Transmission of Affect”, Teresa Brennan stated that affect is a “physiological shift accompanying a judgment.” (Brennan) In going and observing the sites for my project, the space around me changed how I felt- both physically and emotionally. Brennan tells us to go “ feel the atmosphere”, and in doing so, and comparing it to other atmospheres I’ve been in, I realized how important this issue was to me.  In “The Autonomy of Affect”, Brian Massumi discusses how intensity and affect compare. Although it is difficult to see the ways that air pollution and ozone affect us, when we actually do see this happening, and hear about how much it does to the environment, it makes us want to make a difference.


~ by siobhanlynch on February 27, 2017.

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