EPA Highlights Air Pollution Monitoring Project in Buffalo, New York

NEW YORK (April 16, 2024) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia and Dr. Eun-Hye Enki Yoo, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo and Senior Pastor George F. Nicholas, Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church as well as other dignitaries gathered in Buffalo, NY to highlight a new collaborative project led by the University at Buffalo, SUNY. The university received almost $500,000 to deploy low-cost air pollution sensors at sampling sites in the residences of the underserved African American community in Buffalo. They will use this data to develop a community-specific air quality prediction model by integrating the new measurements with existing data. EPA specifically awarded funding, partly under Inflation Reduction Act, to increase monitoring in areas that are underserved to help them better understand what they are exposed to and to help them work with local and other officials to help address the sources of pollution.  

“Knowledge is power and when people know more about what they are breathing, they can better participate in decisions that can address that pollution. This investment will provide the people of Buffalo with access to local air monitoring networks, which will raise community knowledge of air quality,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized direct community participation in information gathering to help reduce harmful air pollution.” 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said, “DEC applauds the Biden-Harris Administration, EPA Administrator Regan, and Regional Administrator Garcia for investing in Buffalo and the health of its residents through this grant and partnership with University at Buffalo experts. Governor Kathy Hochul and DEC recognize the value of research and innovation in addressing our most pressing pollution challenges, as demonstrated by the statewide Community Air Monitoring Initiative, and we look forward to continue to work with our partners at EPA to continue prioritizing New York communities, particularly those most vulnerable to air pollution and the impacts of climate change.” 

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act, the University at Buffalo is getting a gust of $500,000 in federal funding to install air monitoring equipment in underserved communities, paving the way for cleaner and safer air for Western New York’s families and children,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. “I am proud to deliver this environmental justice funding to support the East Side of Buffalo, from Delevan-Grider to the Broadway Market and beyond, in the fight for clean air and will always advocate to deliver the federal support to build a cleaner, more equitable future for Western NY.” 

Conducting air quality monitoring in historically marginalized communities is an impactful way to improve health outcomes in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution for decades,” said New York State Senator Sean Ryan. “I am thankful to the Biden-Harris administration for prioritizing this important work, and I applaud the decision to leverage the University at Buffalo’s expertise and resources to bring this program to Buffalo’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.” 

“As one of nation’s premier public universities, and a flagship of New York, the University at Buffalo is committed to research, education and service. I am proud to say that this EPA-funded project meets those goals and will help reduce health disparities on Buffalo’s East Side,” said Sean Bennett, PhD, professor of geography and associate dean for social sciences in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.” 

“Today in America, people of color are three and half times more likely to live in a neighborhood with poor air quality. This combined with poor academic achievement, substandard housing, persistent under employment and lack of access to healthy food and medical care, creates a toxic environment that produces unacceptable health race-based health disparities” said Senior Pastor and CEO of the Buffalo Center for Health Equity George F. Nicholas.  “I am encouraged that the EPA is investing valuable resources for research and programming to improve air quality for all.” 

The grant is one of 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states that will receive $53.4 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in communities across the United States. The projects are focused on communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution, supporting President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. 

The University at Buffalo will deploy low-cost air pollution (fine particles and nitrogen dioxide) sensors at sampling sites in the residences of the underserved African American community in Buffalo and develop a community-specific air quality prediction model by integrating the collected sensor measurements with existing data. The data will be further supplemented via a targeted mobile-monitoring campaign in which the research team will collect high-resolution monitoring data by driving a vehicle outfitted with an array of real-time commercial air monitors. This data will be helpful for vulnerable populations in the community. 

The air pollution monitoring project is one of several are made possible by more than $30 million in Inflation Reduction Act funds, which supplemented $20 million from the American Rescue Plan and enabled EPA to support 77 additional projects, more than twice the number of projects initially proposed by community-based nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and Tribal governments. 

These grant selections further the goals of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which directed that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to overburdened communities that face disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental impacts. By enhancing air monitoring and encouraging partnerships with communities, EPA is investing in efforts to better protect people’s health, particularly those in underserved communities. 

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides funding to EPA to deploy, integrate, support, and maintain fenceline air monitoring, screening air monitoring, national air toxics trend stations, and other air toxics and community monitoring. Specifically, the Inflation Reduction Act provides funding for grants and other activities under section 103 and section 105 of the Clean Air Act. EPA is using approximately $32.3 million of this funding to select 77 high-scoring community monitoring applications. See the full list of applications selected for award. 

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