050108smokestack.jpgNYC’s air quality has gotten substantially worse compared to other cities, according to the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" survey. Since last year the city jumped from 10th worst in the nation for ozone pollution (smog) to an eighth place ranking. And in the category of short-term particle pollution (soot), NYC nabbed 13th place after ranking 17th worst in the last study. (L.A., the undisputed smog heavyweight, coasted to 1st place again.)

Among the boroughs, Manhattan had the worst soot per year, though on certain days the island was edged out by the Bronx. Staten Island owns the smog category with the worst inter-city ranking. But the silver lining in this black cloud is that the city’s boroughs have made some improvements, with Brooklyn and Staten Island reducing their soot, and Queens getting better at managing their smog.

The American Lung Association's Michael Seilback tells amNY “while we continue to fail, it's trending the right way. There's hopefully a light at the end of the clean-air tunnel.” To that end, his group is partnering with the city on PlaNYC to push legislation on cleaner home heating fuels, eco-friendly taxis and delivery vehicles, and reduced emissions from the Staten Island Ferry.

All this bad air puts New Yorkers at greater risk for heart disease and lung cancer, and it’s no secret NYC has some of the worst asthma rates nationwide. On May 31st, the ALA is holding the Breathe NYC Asthma Walk 2008 (details here).

Photo of smoke Stacks from East 79th Street at 2nd Avenue courtesy edEx.