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Hurricane Sandy Response

Hurricane Sandy Response Efforts

Response timeline | December 27, 2012: 

Air Curtain Incinerator � Air Monitoring at Floyd Bennett Field

General

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the request of New York City, is using an air curtain incinerator at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY to burn vegetative debris, largely from downed trees, gathered in the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy. An air curtain incinerator is a self-contained system that reduces wood debris to ash. It is equipped with air blowers that circulate the air to improve combustion and minimize emissions of fine particles.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has eight fine particle monitors operating around the perimeter of Floyd Bennett Field to monitor for potential impacts of the air curtain devices. An EPA On-Scene Coordinator will be on-site while the burning takes place to monitor what is being burned and air quality at the field.

Levels of fine particles are measured by the monitors and averaged over a 24-hour period. Results from the monitors are compared to an established 24-hour health-based standard. That standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air (�g/m3). If the 24-hour standard is exceeded, the EPA will notify the Army Corps and New York City. Monitoring began on December 28. Results from the monitoring will be available on the website on Wednesday, January 2.

Background Information on the Fine Particle Standard

Fine particles (PM 2.5) are extremely tiny particles in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width. Particles in the PM 2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.

EPA has established health-based air quality standards for PM 2.5 in outdoor air. The short term air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air (�g/m3) averaged over 24 hours. When this level is exceeded repeatedly over a three year period, EPA considers the air quality to be unhealthful. New York City is currently designated as an area not attaining EPA�s particle standard. However, the actual measured levels of fine particles in the New York metropolitan area have met EPA�s health-based air quality standards since 2007.

Read more about particulate matter (PM) air pollution at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/particlepollution/

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Test Burn

At the request of New York City, on November 28 and 29, 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tested the use of an air curtain incinerator to burn vegetative debris gathered in the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy. EPA operated eight fine particle monitors around the perimeter of Floyd Bennett Field to monitor for potential impacts of the air curtain devices. Results from these monitors were compared to an established 24-hour health-based standard for fine particles.

Monitored levels of fine particles, which were measured over a 24-hour period that included the test burn, met EPA�s health-based standard for fine particles. During the November 28 and 29 air tests, no levels above the health-based standard were recorded. EPA provided this information to the Army Corps and New York City. Results of EPA�s air monitoring and the locations of the monitors can be found at:
http://www.epa.gov/sandy/pdf/results-11-2829-12.pdf and
http://www.epa.gov/sandy/pdf/map-11-2829-12.pdf

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Additional Air Sampling

On November 19, 2012, EPA collected air samples from eight locations around Floyd Bennett Field to measure baseline concentrations of 119 different chemicals including, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, and dioxin. Exposure to these pollutants can have serious health effects, and in some cases, increase the risk of cancer. During the November 28 test burn, the EPA collected air samples from the eight sampling locations for analysis of the same parameters and chemicals. These samples were analyzed in a laboratory.

The baseline and test burn results were compared to screening values designed to protect people's health. There were 23 VOCs and one metal (sodium) detected in the baseline results. All the detected concentrations were below levels of concern. During the actual November 28 test burn there were 26 VOCs detected. All of the detected concentrations were below levels of concern and were similar to the baseline results. There were no PAHs detected in the baseline results or test burn results, and no metals were detected in the test burn results. Dioxin was not detected in any of the baseline or test burn results. 

Get the baseline and test burn sampling results summary table at http://www.epa.gov/sandy/data/burnsamplingsummary-11-28-2012.pdf

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Response Timeline

Nov 2012  8   9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Dec 2012  1   2   4   6   8  10 12 14 17 18 27
Jan 2013  2   3   4   7   8   9  10 11 14 15 16 17 18 22 23 24 25 29 30 31
Feb 2013  1   4   5   6  7 8 12 13 14 20 21
March 2013  1   7 
April 2013 11

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