Cost of NYC's Dirty Oil

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's behind that black smoke pouring out of many city buildings? From the NYU Institute for Policy Integrity, Executive Director Michael Livermore and fellow Jason Schwartz discuss their recent study of the effects of oil boilers on the city's air, and the larger efforts being made to clean up air pollution in the area.


Michael Livermore and Jason Schwartz

Comments [13]

Isabelle Silverman from New York City

This new IPI report shows that over 180 people die every year because of the dirty heating oil (No. 4 and 6 oil) and many more get sick from air pollution caused by the dirty oil. Check if your building is burning dirty oil at and if it is, use the sample letter on the webpage to write to your managing agent and building owner urging them to much cleaner and cheaper natural gas or much cleaner (but more expensive) No. 2 heating oil. If you can get several residents/tenants to write together, that's even better.

Mayor Bloomberg has the power to phase out the dirty oil and this is why the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Lung Association, WEACT and UPROSE have been urging the Mayor's Office to phase out the dirty oil by 2020. Anything more than 10 years is too long because our health deserves a phase out as soon as possible.

Jan. 26 2010 11:11 PM
Alice from Brooklyn

Thanks for the interesting and important segment. Please let us know if/how the issue evolves, because this is just the type of quality of life issue which affects all of us, but which we don't really think about. Agreed that Gennaro should extend ban to all building incinerators. (I didn't know that they were still allowed!)

Jan. 26 2010 12:01 PM
Brent from Bronx, NY

One really obvious solution is to use bioheat instead of #2 heating oil.

Bioheat is a 20% biodiesel-heating oil blend delivered by several companies in the city. The fuel comes with a 20-cent-per-gallon cash rebate from New York State and is often CHEAPER than conventional heating oil.

Every gallon of biodiesel used reduces life cycle carbon emissions by 40-80% and particulate matter by 50% and sulfur dioxide by 100%. American lung association says biodiesel is 90% less toxic.

Why wait--lookup biodiesel nyc in google to make the change in your building today.

Jan. 26 2010 11:40 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

Building stock in NYC is THE primary emitter of greenhouse gases through the energy used as in combination with boiler heating.

Because of that reality, changes to cleaner burning heating fuels in boilers is one item that should be addressed along with retrofits and upgrades to more efficient boilers.

Finally, the call from "Joe" was a good one in that we can reduce our dirty pollution and greenhouse gases and increase our city's health, all while putting people to work and training workers to maintain a cleaner and more efficient heating supply. We need to recognize that maintenance is key to continued efficiency and conservation.

Jan. 26 2010 11:13 AM
Maggie Clarke from Inwood

If Dean Bell is right (comment 1), Gennaro should include a ban on the rest of the building incinerators (i.e. extend the 1989 bill to non-apartment buildings). I didn't realize that schools or other buildings still had incinerators. These are, by definition, bad actors because you can't keep them at a uniform 1800 degrees plus with just the right amount of oxygen as people throw in a big chunk of wet or dry garbage, or paper/plastic vs. nonburnable stuff.

Jan. 26 2010 11:11 AM
hjs from 11211

everyone should call quinn TODAY! IT it is her "department"

Legislative Office Phone
(212) 788-7210

Legislative Office Fax
(212) 788-7207

ps why can wnyc get a website that works correctly??

John from NYC
THE REAL BOTTOM LINE who pays for the health issues caused by soot in the air?

Jan. 26 2010 11:05 AM
Maggie Clarke from Inwood

It's not just the type of oil, but the burners are not all tuned properly. I understand that DEP allows burners to "Puff" for up to 3 minutes upon startup. There's one near me that does this all the time - black smoke on a regular basis but just for maybe 10 seconds.

Legislation WILL accomplish what we need. I began the drive to get apartment building incinerators all shut down in 1983. I testified with info from Toronto about bad incinerators. I was there where Koch signed the bill in 1989. 2200 apartment building incinerators were shut down in 1993 thanks to this law. I'm glad Councilmember Gennaro is finally dealing with this. Excellent! (Take a look at the law passed in 1989!)

Jan. 26 2010 11:01 AM
John from NYC

Bottom line - WHO's GOING TO PAY FOR THIS???

Jan. 26 2010 10:56 AM
Merrill Clark from NY, NY

What is the cost differential between "clean" oil and the dirty oil?

Jan. 26 2010 10:53 AM
Robert from NYC

Beth Israel hospital on 1st Ave / 17th St emits thick black smoke sometimes for 1/2 or more usually late night. It's really disgusting especially coming from a Hospital. I often wonder if that's what they do with amputated body parts!! Wouldn't surprise me if it is the way hospitals are run these days... kinda like slaughter houses.

Jan. 26 2010 10:52 AM
David from Stuyvesant Town

Great that this is getting more attention, but there is another important, albeit smaller contributor to poisoned air:

Why is it so many drivers park, sit, stand, and often even leave their cars while their engines are still running? Car exhaust contributes to asthma, cancers, problems with cognition and cognitive development, and of course, warming.

Most justifications you hear about idling have been untrue for 25 years (e.g., it uses less gas than starting the engine).

Thousands of idiots all over town wasting their own (or their company's) gas and poisoning their own and others' air. But for some reason I rarely here the issue mentioned in discussions of air pollution.

Jan. 26 2010 10:44 AM
ert from

ahhh, why we left

Jan. 26 2010 09:30 AM
Dean Bell from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Forget about boilers, John Jay High School in Park Slope regularly incinerates garbage, spewing out a huge black cloud for more than a half hour at a time. I thought garbage incineration had been done away with?

Jan. 26 2010 08:59 AM

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