Parks Turf Lead Results

Synthetic Turf on Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue, Flatbush
Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) has released a report detailing the results of testing for lead levels in synthetic turf from playgrounds and sports fields across the city:

The Health Department found an elevated lead level in the crumb rubber infill material at Thomas Jefferson Park in Manhattan in 2008. … Using protocols developed by the Health Department, an accredited lab working for the Parks Department has since tested the remaining synthetic turf installations throughout New York City for lead and has not found a lead hazard at any other fields.

Aside from Thomas Jefferson Park, the test results for the remaining 102 fields and play areas were below the acceptable EPA lead level for soil (400 parts per million [ppm]), the best standard available, and no potential lead hazards were found. Lead levels for the 102 fields ranged from ‘not detected’ to 240 ppm and 96% of the results were less than 100 ppm.
Synthetic Turf Lead Results, Parks

The highest level of the new study, 240 ppm, was found in J.J. Walker Park in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. The second highest, 154 ppm, was found at Parade Ground Field 9, just south of Prospect Park in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Via New Yorkers for Parks on Twitter

Related Content

Hearing on Parks’ use of artificial turf, 2007-12-06


Synthetic Turf Lead Results, Parks

“The Mystery of the Maple Syrup Mist”

That’s the title Mayor Bloomberg gave to the investigation into the recurring maple syrup smells that have been reported sporadically in New York City over the past few years. The City closed its investigation with the conclusion that the smell is caused by an ester escaping from the processing of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seed by a New Jersey plant owned by Frutarom. The ester occurred in concentrations of only one part per billion or less, making identification difficult.

Fenugreek seeds. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Credit: Humbads

Trigonella foenum-graecum, Fenugreek, is in the Fabaceae, the Pea or Legume Family.
Botanical illustration: Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of the polysaccharide galactomannan. They are also a source of saponins such as diosgenin, yamogenin, gitogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogens. Other bioactive constituents of fenugreek include mucilage, volatile oils, and alkaloids such as choline and trigonelline.

Fenugreek is frequently used in the production of flavoring for artificial maple syrups. The taste of toasted fenugreek, like cumin, is additionally based on substituted pyrazines. By itself, fenugreek has a somewhat bitter taste.
Fenugreek, Wikipedia



Press conference

New York City Department of Environmental Protection
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

N.J. Fenugreek Seeds, Source of Mysterious Syrup Odor, Michael Barbaro, New York Times, 2009.02.05
Maple Mystery Solved (It’s New Jersey’s Fault), Elizabeth Benjamin, New York Daily News, 2009.02.05

NYC Sewer-Stormwater Settlement

New York City will pay $5,000,000 to settle violations from delays in upgrades to sewer and stormwater systems. Three of the four sites to benefit directly from the settlement are in or adjacent to Brooklyn: Gowanus Canal, Coney Island Creek, and Jamaica Bay.

New York City has agreed to pay a $1 million fine and fund $4 million worth of environmental-benefit projects to settle violations related to delays in making sewer-system and stormwater-system upgrades to prevent overflows into waterways. The violations stem from the city’s failure to make improvements in accordance with a schedule outlined in a 2005 consent order. Under this settlement, the city has agreed to a new timeline for completing those construction projects and will make further upgrades to both its sewer and stormwater systems.
Settlement Paves Way for Sewer/Stormwater Upgrades and Green Infrastructure in NYC, July 2008, Environment DEC

The issue centered around New York City’s obligation to improve mechanical structures, foundations, substructures, pumping stations and other infrastructure-related systems. The projects are designed to improve the capacity of the city’s wastewater and stormwater systems. During heavy rainfall in New York City and other municipalities, runoff can exceed the capacity of the sewer system, triggering what’s known as “combined sewer overflows.” [Just as attractive as it sounds.] Infrastructure upgrades can diminish the chances of overflows.

The environmental benefit projects will be concentrated in the Bronx River, Flushing Bay, Coney Island Creek and Gowanus Canal watersheds and will assess the use of various green infrastructure to be installed for sewer-overflow and stormwater abatement. Some of the types of projects that will be considered include enhanced tree pits with underground water storage, rain gardens, green roofs, bio-retention basins and swales, porous pavement and blue roofs. Collectively, these projects are intended to reduce the volume of stormwater that enters the sewer system, thereby limiting overflows. These projects, administered through the state Environmental Facilities Corp., will include extensive community input and involvement.

Flatbush Facts: Brooklyn’s Noisiest ‘Hood

It makes a body proud. Flatbush is Brooklyn’s noisiest neighborhood, measured by the number of noise complaints to 311.

[In Flatbush] 2,058 noise complaints were made to the city’s 311 hotline from July 1 to Nov. 20. Williamsburg fell just three complaints behind, followed by Bushwick and Brownsville.
Flatbush tops loudest in Brooklyn, NY Daily news, December 11, 2007

This year, DEP complaints in Brooklyn surged by approximately 23%, from 3,914 to 5,101 calls, officials said. Citywide, there were more than 135,589 complaints in the nearly five-month period – about a 25% hike over the same period in 2006.

Brooklyn’s top noise culprit is construction-related din, which is handled by the DEP and clocked in at 2,300 complaints.

Other pesky rackets plaguing the borough include … barking dogs, which annoyed Brooklynites enough for them to dial 311 1,263 times from July until last week. Ice cream truck jingles drew 261 complaints and loud music spurred 119 calls. Car noises, including honking horns and alarms, also made the top-10 list of complaints for the borough.


Air & Noise, DEP

Gardening as if our lives depended on it

2014-10-13: I just discovered that none of the original links are good. Two web sites linked from this post – Climate Choices, and the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA) – now redirect to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

I first started writing this post in the Fall of 2006. I drafted it in October 2006, but never published it. I think I was too overwhelmed by the impact of what I was writing to release it. The IPCC report has been issued since then. What I wrote over a year ago no longer sounds so alarmist to me. A post on Garden Rant spurred me to dust this off and get it out there, however imperfect I may think it is.

There’s a lot to this, and I’ve gone through some changes just to take it all in. Here’s the short version:

  • Climate change is inevitable. It’s happening already. We can’t undo the damage we’ve already caused. We can only ride it out.
  • If we continue as we have, the impacts will be severe. It’s going to get really, really bad.
  • Actions we take now can reduce the impact. If we start doing things differently now, it won’t get as bad as it could. We can affect the future.

There are those who cling, at times violently, to ignorance and dismissal of the facts of climate change induced by human activity. “De-nial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” It reminds me of the classical stages of grieving described 40 years ago by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, all of which are demonstrated in different responses expressed around this topic:

  • Denial. The three-dog argument – denial, minimization, projection – applies here: There’s no climate change (it’s not a problem). The climate change is within historical ranges (it’s not so bad). It’s a natural process (it’s not my problem).
  • Anger. Protest, boycott, rage against the machine, fight the system, fight the man.
  • Bargaining. Carbon “credits” is the most obvious example. Little different from buying indulgences from a corrupt church.
  • Depression. There’s nothing we can do about it.
  • Acceptance. It’s going to happen. It’s happening. Now what do we do about it?

In July 2006, I wrote about the Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship:

The seventh generation would be my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren’s children. (If I had, or were going to have, any children to begin with.) If a generation occurs within the range of 20-30 years, we’re talking 140-210 years. Call it 175 years from now.

It’s the year 2181. It’s hard for me to imagine anything I can do to stave off or reduce the multiple disasters which we will have caused.

That was the voice of depression. I feel some hope now. The changes I make now, the work I do now, can make a difference. But only if I accept what’s going to happen if I do nothing.

A report (PDF) issued in October 2006 details what’s going to happen to the climate of the Northeastern United States – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – in this century:

The Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA) is a collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists and a team of independent experts using state-of-the-art tools to assess how global warming will affect the Northeast United States following two different paths: A higher emissions path with continued rapid growth in global warming pollution, and a lower emissions path with greatly reduced heat trapping emissions.

The goal of this assessment is to provide opinion leaders, policymakers, and the public with the best available science as we make informed choices about reducing our heat-trapping emissions and managing the changes we cannot avoid.
Climate Choices in the Northeast, Climate Choice

The [Northeast] region, comprising nine of the 50 US states, is critical, since it alone is the world’s seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, just behind the entire nation of Germany and ahead of all of Canada …

Climate changes already under way will continue to accelerate in the next few decades, whether the high-emissions or low-emissions path is taken, but the results will diverge dramatically by the time today’s newborns reach middle age, the study found.
US Northeast Could Warm Drastically by 2100, PlanetArk

Even the more optimistic, lower-emission scenario – if we aggressively reduce our contributions to global warming – is concerning. If we do nothing, NYC will become unliveable by the end of this century.

The higher-emission scenario … represents a future with fossil fuel-intensive economic growth and a global population that peaks mid-century and then declines. In this scenario, concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (the main heat-trapping gas) reach 940 parts per million (ppm) by 2100—more than triple pre-industrial levels.

The lower-emission scenario … also represents a world with high economic growth and a global population that peaks by mid-century, then declines. However, the lower-emission scenario includes a shift to less fossil fuel-intensive industries and the introduction of clean and resource-efficient technologies. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reach 550 ppm by 2100, about double pre-industrial levels. Current carbon dioxide concentrations stand at 380 ppm (about 40 percent above pre-industrial levels).
Scenarios and Models, Climate Choice

Over the past 40 years, NYC has averaged 15 days over 90F, and 2 days over 100F each year. In the lower-emission scenario, by the end of the century NYC will have 39 days over 90F, and 7 days over 100F. Under higher (unreduced) emissions, NYC will have 72 days over 90F (five times the current historical average), and 25 days over 100F (ten times the current historical average).

While these urban temperature projections seem to include the overall urban heat island effect, they do not describe surface temperatures, which I wrote about in August 2006. Rooftop temperatures can exceed 150F in the summer. These effects will be amplified even more when the city bakes for weeks and months without relief. We can expect heat-related deaths in the tens of thousands. Heat-related structural failures are not out of the question; the infrastructure of the city was not built with these conditions in mind.

What about winter temperatures? These will also increase. They have already increased by 3.8F from 1970 to 2000. Under the lower-emission scenario, average winter temperatures over the region will increase by 5-7.5F. With higher emissions, we will see 8-12F increase in winter temperatures. The USDA Hardiness Zones are delineated by 5F, so this means my garden is moving 1-2 zones this century, from Zone 7a to Zone 7b or 8a.

For another point of comparison, when things were that much cooler than they are now, NYC was under a mile of ice.

The temperature projections do not include the apparent temperature caused by increased humidity – the heat index – which can make it feel up to 20F hotter. Warmer air can hold more moisture. The increase in humidity will ramp up the heat index faster than the actual temperature.

This map represents how climate will shift in the NYC area through this century. This includes consideration of the heat index. Basically, we’ll be somewhere between Virgina Beach and Savannah.

Thanks to PlanetArk for bringing this to my attention

Related Posts

Imagine Flatbush 2030, November 20, 2007
Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth, November 18, 2007
Preserving Livable Streets, November 7, 2007
2006 was the fifth-warmest year on record, February 20, 2007
The IPCC Report: Grief & Gardening #6, February 4, 2007
Buying Indulgences: The Carbon Market, November 23, 2006
NASA Earth Observatory Maps NYC’s Heat Island, Block by Block, August 6, 2006
The Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship, July 22, 2006


Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA) (link corrected 2014-10-13)
Full report (PDF, 159 pages, link corrected 2014-10-13)
Summary (PDF, 8 pages, link defunct 2014-10-13)
Climate Choice (link defunct, 2014-10-13)
Union of Concerned Scientists

News: First images of noctilucent clouds from space

A view of the North Pole. White and light blue represent noctilucent cloud structures. Black indicates areas where no data is available.
Credit: Cloud Imaging and Particle Size Experiment data processing team at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

These are the first images of noctilucent clouds from space.

The first observations of these “night-shining” clouds by a satellite named “AIM” which means Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, occurred above 70 degrees north latitude on May 25. People on the ground began seeing the clouds on June 6 over Northern Europe. AIM is the first satellite mission dedicated to the study of these unusual clouds.

These mystifying clouds are called Polar Mesospheric Clouds, or PMCs, when they are viewed from space and referred to as “night-shining” clouds or Noctilucent Clouds, when viewed by observers on Earth. The clouds form in an upper layer of the Earth’s atmosphere called the mesosphere during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer season which began in mid-May and extends through the end of August and are being seen by AIM’s instruments more frequently as the season progresses. They are also seen in the high latitudes during the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is basic research in earth science. One thing is already known: the clouds are changing.

Very little is known about how these clouds form over the poles, why they are being seen more frequently and at lower latitudes than ever before, or why they have been growing brighter. [emphasis added] AIM will observe two complete cloud seasons over both poles, documenting an entire life cycle of the shiny clouds for the first time.

“It is clear that these clouds are changing, a sign that a part of our atmosphere is changing and we do not understand how, why or what it means,” stated AIM principal investigator James Russell III of Hampton University, Hampton, Va. “These observations suggest a connection with global change in the lower atmosphere and could represent an early warning that our Earth environment is being changed.”

PMCs occur 50 miles/80 km above Earth’s surface. This is at the top of the mesosphere. It’s almost at the thermopause, the boundary between the mesosphere and thermosphere. In the United States, if you travel to this height, you’re considered an astronaut. Just above this is where auroras form. Far below, at 15-35km altitude, in the stratosphere, is the famous ozone layer.

We are so screwed.

Happy (?!) Endangered Species Day

On May 18th, America celebrates [sic] Endangered Species Day! The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution supporting Endangered Species Day, a national celebration of America’s commitment to protecting and recovering our nation’s endangered species. Americans young and old will learn about endangered species, including the American bald eagle, peregrine falcon, gray wolf, grizzly bear, humpback whale and many of our nation’s wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction.

For the next week, millions of Americas [sic] will celebrate Endangered Species Day at parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, environmental agencies, conservation organizations, schools, museums, libraries, businesses, and community groups across the country. For a list of Endangered Species Day events and activities, visit the Endangered Species Day webpage.


2006 was the fifth-warmest year on record

NASA reports that the five warmest years on record were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, and 2006. Put another way, four of the fifth warmest years on record occurred in the last five years. And they expect 2007 to be even warmer than 2006.

The top image is a global map showing temperature anomalies during 2006, blue being the coolest and red being the warmest. Areas with cooler-than-average temperatures appear primarily in the northern Pacific Ocean and Southern Ocean, as well as the interior of Antarctica. The very warmest regions appear in the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula, which is consistent with climate predictions that global warming will occur more quickly and dramatically in high latitudes. The red colors that dominate the image reveal the overall warmth of 2006 compared to the long-term average.

The graph below the image tracks mean global temperatures compared to the 1951 to 1980 mean. This graph shows two lines, the 5-year mean, indicated in red, and the annual mean, indicated in pink. Temperatures peaked around 1940 then fell in the 1950s. By the early 1980s, temperatures surpassed those of the 1940s and, despite ups and downs from year to year, they continued rising beyond the year 2000.

– NASA Earth Observatory

The IPCC Report: Grief & Gardening #6

On Friday in Paris, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first volume, “The Physical Basis of Climate Change,” of their Fourth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2007.” The Summary for Policymakers (aka SPM, available in PDF only) presents the synopsis of the findings. Other sections of the full report will be released later this year.

I’ve been reading the reactions and responses – angry, depressed, pessimistic, or nihilistic – to this report from my favorite garden and nature bloggers.

We are experiencing, and witnessing, grieving on a global scale. We are grieving for the world. And the world is grieving.

I’ve been processing my own feelings about all of this, and trying to formulate my own response. For now, I don’t want to respond directly to the IPCC report, nor others’ reactions to it. Here’s all I want to share right now.

David Bowie – Five Years Live 1972