The History of Pollution in New York City Essay

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Introduction New York City has unique benefits in that there are tremendous amounts of people who live within close proximity to each other. This has resulted in higher uses of mass transit systems (such as: subways and buses). On average, New York’s total environmental footprint is 7.1 metrics tons per person annually. This is much lower than national average of 24.5 metric tons. The city contributes 1% of the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere for the United States each year. (“Inventory Greenhouse of New York City,” 2007) (Jarvey, 2006) In spite of these benefits and lower levels of carbon emission, New York City was named the dirtiest city for 2012 in Travel and Leisure magazine. They cited poor air…show more content…
(Waldman, 2013) (Jarvey, 2006) However, by the 1890s it was clear that this was a problem which was becoming worse. To deal with these challenges the Metropolitan Sewage Commission began to monitor the quality of water and disposal of waste. They surveyed the New York Harbor and determined that it was filled with a black sludge at the bottom. This is the result of years of contamination that built up. In the decades following, they worked to continuously improve these standards and enforce them on the local level. Once the Clean Water Act was passed, is when these standards became common throughout the nation. This law adopted the provisions that were focused on by the Metropolitan Sewage Commission. Most notably: all lakes, rivers, streams and ponds must be fishable. This ensured improved standards for monitoring and increasing the quality of water inside New York City. (Waldman, 2013) (Jarvey, 2006) During the 1890s, air pollution also became a major issue from rapid industrialization. The result is that the government began to enact various air quality laws dating back to the early 20th century. This was regulated for the most part by the New York Sanitary Code. These are a series of local guidelines which are used to loosely enforce different environmental ordinances. They rely mainly on the individual voluntarily complying and have limited enforcement powers. (Reitze, 2005)
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