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Clearing the air: How buildings are polluting New York City


New York City has a well-known air pollution problem, but what you might not know is that much of that comes from the building pollution that surrounds us every day. In a recent news article, Mayor Eric Adams identified buildings as the single largest source of harmful air particles in the city.

While New Yorkers are aware of the transportation-related pollution that plagues the city, few realize that the air inside our own buildings is even worse.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

What is building pollution?

Simply put, it’s pollution that comes from the buildings we live and work in. Some of the most common sources of this pollution are heating and cooling systems. Ventilation systems and even the materials used to build the structure contribute.

Indoor air pollutants comprise things like dust, mold, pet dander and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals emitted from many common household products.

Why is building pollution so harmful?

For one, it’s a constant source of bad ai that we’re exposed to every day. Many of these pollutants are known to cause health problems. People with pre-existing conditions like asthma or cardiovascular disease are at greater risk.

VOCs cause headaches, nausea and even damage to the central nervous system. Mold can trigger allergic reactions and worsen respiratory issues.

How are authorities addressing building pollution in New York City?

The city is taking steps to reduce building pollution, implementing stricter building codes and requiring that buildings undergo energy efficiency audits. But we need much more.

Buildings often require expensive overhauls to become more efficient, and many owners are unwilling to invest. Added to that, the city fails to devote enough resources to enforce existing air quality laws.

How can individuals reduce their exposure to building pollution?

While most of the responsibility falls on building owners and city authorities, individuals can protect themselves.

First, make sure your home or office is properly ventilated, especially when cleaning or using household products. Invest in air purifiers or plants that naturally clean the air. You can also opt for natural or low-VOC cleaning products, and loo. And look for building materials that are low in harmful chemicals.


As we continue to grapple with air pollution in New York City, remember that building pollution plays a major role in our local air quality. It’s up to all of us doing our part in reducing our exposure to harmful pollutants.

Working together, we can breathe a little easier and create a healthier city for ourselves and future generations.

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