Clean air taxis cut pollution in New York City: Study

May 29, 2019

New York City Clean Air Taxi rules are successful in cutting emissions and reducing air pollution, according to a new study by researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Drexel University. Between 2009 and 2015, the legislation more than doubled the fuel efficiency of the fleet of 13,500 yellow taxis, leading to estimated declines in air pollution emissions. The findings are published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

The scientists report that overall fuel efficiency of the medallion taxi fleet climbed from 15.7 to 33.1 MPG, and corresponding estimates of nitrous oxide and particulate exhaust emissions declined by 82 percent and 49 percent, respectively. They also found these emission reductions were associated with decreases in concentrations of pollutants in the city's air.

Introduced in 2006, Clean Air Taxi legislation mandated that at least 9 percent of new medallions for yellow taxis be set aside for hybrid or compressed natural gas vehicles, and incentivized the purchase of low-emission taxis by extending the allowed period of models classified as "clean air" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Clean Air Taxi laws do not regulate the city's 100,000 for-hire vehicles like Ubers and Lyfts which are governed by separate laws and regulations.

"The past decade has seen steady improvements in the quality of air in New York City, and clean-air taxis appear to be one contributing factor," Dustin Fry, MPH, a researcher at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. "This is good news for New Yorkers' health since we know air pollution raises the risks of low birth weight and asthma in children."

The researchers created maps to measure taxi traffic intensity across the city and used inspection and trip data to approximate taxi-related exhaust emissions of two major sources of air pollution: nitric oxide and particulate matter. They then used New York City Community Air Survey data collected at more than 100 monitoring sites across the city to estimate the impact of these changes.

The biggest effect was seen in Manhattan neighborhoods with a high density of yellow taxis--not in low-income and outer borough areas with elevated rates of respiratory illness. The authors say this finding suggests other policies are needed to make meaningful advances in improving respiratory health.

"This study provides evidence that air pollution legislation can have real impact," says study co-author Frederica Perera, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of Translational Research at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. "Even though overall, yellow taxis account for a small proportion of vehicular miles traveled on New York City's streets, in midtown they account for almost half. Similar regulations targeting other vehicles could make an even bigger difference."
Additional authors include Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, Christian A. Treat, David Evans, Kimberly R. Burke, Daniel Carrion at the Columbia Mailman School and Columbia University Irving Medical Center; and Loni P. Tabb, Gina S. Lovasi at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.

The research was conducted in collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and was financed by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (P50ES09600), the NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan (P30ES009089), the John and Wendy Neu Family Foundation, and the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Foundation.

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to