NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) -- The New York City Council is expected to agree to cut sulfur levels in half by requiring buildings to burn low-sulfur oil to improve health, officials said.
Mayor Bloomberg and council leaders agreed on legislation that requires buildings to burn low-sulfur No. 4 oil by October 2011. The fuel contains 1,500 parts per million of sulfur -- vs. the current standard of 3,000 ppm -- and will emit 40 percent less soot pollution.
"New Yorkers burn more than 1 billion gallons of heating oil each year and by changing the type of oil we use, we will reduce pollutants and spend less money on maintaining and operating our heating systems, while simultaneously reducing our dependence on overseas sources of energy," Bloomberg says in a statement. "But most importantly, it will help us fight asthma, lengthen lifespans and improve the quality-of-life in neighborhoods throughout our city."
New York's sustainability agenda, PlaNYC calls for having the best air quality of any major city in the nation by 2030, Bloomberg says.
Burning of heating fuels accounts for nearly 14 percent of fine particulate matter pollutants -- which contain heavy metals and other pollutants that damage lungs and hearts, contribute to asthma and decrease life expectancy. More pollution comes from heating oil than from vehicles or power plants, Bloomberg says.
The new heating oil is required to contain 2 percent biodiesel that may use cooking grease from city restaurants.