Air Monitoring Stations Set-up Near Peace Bridge

October 25, 2012 Updated Oct 25, 2012 at 10:12 AM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

October 25, 2012 Updated Oct 25, 2012 at 10:12 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY


Residents do not need a test to tell them the air they are breathing in is packed with toxic fumes from Peace Bridge traffic but they want the testing that is being done to reflect the complete dirty story.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation explaining its six month air monitoring project after west side Buffalo residents complained about bad air they have been doing that for years and believe it will get even worse if the Peace Bridge is expanded.

Delores Powell says she noticed a change in her health after moving from the east side to the west side in 2005 and says the number of neighbors who have asthma is alarming.

"I can feel the heaviness of the air that I breathe," said Delores Powell.

"The impact is not just on the west side it's throughout any city," said Al Carlacci, from the Regional Air Pollution Control Engineer, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC set up two air monitors that began collecting data on September 6th, one near the southwest corner of Front Park and the other at the corner of Vermont Street and Busti Avenue.

"What we're focusing on is particulates and we have a standard for particulate matter in 2.5 microns and smaller and we're also looking at black carbon which is soot that's common from diesel emissions," said Carlacci.

Even though it will take six months for the study to be complete, residents are doubtful about its effectiveness, starting with the location of the monitors themselves.

"The wind is only blowing in the direction of those air monitors 20 percent of the time and that's kind of an average so over the next few months it could be blowing all over the place," said Bill Scheider, Asst. Professor at UB School of Public Health.

Another issue? The monitors aren't set up to track ultra fine particulates because there isn't federally approved equipment to do so.

Meanwhile, the expansion project for the Peace Bridge plaza is moving forward with the support of Governor Cuomo. The $40 million Peace Bridge project includes overhauling the customs commercial building, adding a new exit ramp and entry underpass, and widening the bridge approach.

Construction is scheduled to start in spring of 2013.

The DEC says it will re-test the air when and if the expansion project is completed.