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TOPIC: Newtown Creek EMT : Water and Air Quality Sampling : Variables, Technologies, & Methodologies

The Newtown Creek Environmental Monitoring Team will:

1) develop air and water quality test kits that can distributed to LaGuardia Community College students and residents and employees of the Newtown Creek neighborhoods who are concerned about the impact of pollution on community health.

2) design a set of interactive web based tools to communicate and visualize the test results to the broader public.

Currently we are in the process of deciding what variables we will be testing for (e.g. dissolved oxygen, pH, PM2.5, ozone etc.), what technologies we will be using (i.e. hardware), and what methodologies we will be following (i.e. step by step sampling procedures).

Please share your research and references with the rest of the team here.

If you would like to join the NCEMT let us know here.
Thursday evening's NCEMT meeting went well. As per the agenda, we spent the bulk of the time debating the advantages and disadvantages of different air and water quality sampling technologies and methodologies. We also spent some time discussing visualizations for the mobile air monitoring component of the project.
(o) Sarah Williams shared information about her Beijing Air Tracks project .
(o) Sarah Durand informed us that there are two LAGCC students who are ready to initiate monitoring work next semester.
(o) We agreed to begin limited scale water and air quality testing in January or February.
(o) Mike Schade agreed to take the lead in working out details for bucket brigade VOC monitoring in Greenpoint.
(o) Sarah Durand agreed to take the lead in researching water quality test kits and methodologies with her colleagues at LAGCC.

Please take time to review the resources included below. I assembled these resources to guide us as we work to decide what variables we will be testing for (e.g. dissolved oxygen, pH, PM2.5, ozone, PCE etc.), what technologies we will be using (i.e. hardware), and what methodologies we will be following (i.e. step by step procedures). Feel free to review, respond, or add to all the resources or dig into whatever piques your interest.

Those interested in the mobile air monitoring component are asked to review and comment on these draft renderings:

Reference Air Quality Monitoring Projects
South Bronx CBOs and NYU:


Bucket Brigade:

Common Sense Research Project:

The Urban Pollution Monitoring Project:

Beijing Air Tracks

“Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City”:
Air Quality Testing Parameters
Ambient Air Quality Monitoring New York's Program to Track Air Quality

Air Monitoring Instruments and Methods:
Air Quality Testing Technologies
Microdust Pro (PM)

Magee Scientific (black carbon PM)

Genesis (CO, NO, NO2, SO2)

Vulcain Safety Palm (CO)

Applied Ozone Systems (ozone)

PhoCheck (VOCs)

Dylos Corp. (PM)

DataRam Particle Monitor (PM)

Microdust Pro (PM)

AFC international (multiple products)

Lighthouse (PM)

Pine Env. Services (multiple products including badges)

Colorimetric Gas Detection Tubes (VOCs)

Professional Equipment (multiple products)

Environmental Equipment and Supply (multiple products)


Thermo Scientific (multiple products),10255,2101,00.html
Mobile Air Monitoring Web Design Resources




Reference Water Quality Monitoring Projects

The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program:

Hudson Basin River Watch
Water Quality Testing Parameters
DEP New York Harbor Water Quality Survey Webpage:

Draft Sustainable Stomwater Manangement Plan 2008 (see page: 60-61)

2006 New York Harbor Water Quality Report:

New York State Water Quality 2006:
Water Quality Testing Technologies


Ward Science:


Envirosupply Service:

Environmental Equipment and Supply
On 12/3 Tim Dye from SonmaTech ( wrote:

Black Carbon (or elemental carbon, EC) is usually about 4%-7% of the mass of PM2.5 in urban U.S. environments.

There are portable instruments that can monitor select VOCs rather cheaply but these are mostly for fenceline or indoor monitoring where you are just looking to see if concentrations are above a (typically high) threshold – low precision, may be handheld. Other than that VOC monitoring is in general tough to do cheaply – collecting canisters or running an Automatic Gas Chromtograph.

Other instruments choices include:

(o) Black Carbon: Real-time sample collection and analysis of Aerosol Black Carbon mass concentration in air using the Aethalometer optical absorption method (

(o) PM2.5: E-Bams ( which are nice instrument, but not really portable.

(o) CO, SO2: You might also check out
On 12/4 Carlos Restrepo from NYU's Wagner School wrote:

Our South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study web page is:

The NYU School of Medicine component of the project has its own web page:

I think that you said you were interested in the monitoring equipment they used and if you click on Mobile Laboratory on the top left corner you can see a list of their equipment.
USA Today Special Report: Toxic Air and America's Schools
On 1/6 Mike Schade from CHEJ ( wrote:

Following up on the NCEMT meeting last month, attached is a Bucket Brigade budget I received from Denny and Ruth at Global Community Monitor. At the meeting I promised to look into expenses for training and testing so here it is:
Ten site visits to Newtown Creek were made in August for water sampling and testing. Nine visits sampled water from the Nature Walk site, the tenth sampled from the Apollo Street site. There was great variability in dissolved oxygen levels (relative to atmospheric O2) and counts of bacteria (enterococcus - gut bacteria). See the table posted with the Newtown Creek Monitoring Team at the Nature Walk.

The highest oxygen levels coincided with a bloom of single-celled algae (phytoplankton). The highest counts of enterococcus CPU's (no. colony forming units per 100ml water sample) coincided with a preceding heavy rain and low salinity level, suggestive of sewage overflow. To understand dramatic phytoplankton blooms and declines and the day-to-day appearance and disappearance of certain organisms such as grass shrimp will require specific chemical tests for heavy metals and organics.

Newtown Creek Monitoring Team test sites will each have a marker ("water" category). Currently two markers are posted - one at the Nature Walk and the other at the Apollo Street access point. Markers contain current water data from thee sites
I am working on an air quality profile on the Bronx. Ive read about your projects regarding air quality in the Bronx/NYC, great work! I was curious if you had any recent updates. How effective has your air quality monitor been (neat concept)? Have you guys involved the community? How informed regarding air quality are they? Is there somewhere I can access this information online?

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