Lung Association Applauds Passage of Bill to Clean up Home Heating Oil

Urges Assembly to Pass & Governor Paterson to Immediately Sign Measure into Law

ALBANY, NY (06/17/2010)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York applauded the state Senate for giving final legislative approval to a bill that would require the use of cleaner home heating oil in New York state. The bill, S.1145-c, would significantly limit the allowable sulfur content in all # 2 heating oil sold in the state. If enacted, the bill will eliminate as much sulfur as would closing down two and a half of New York's dirty, coal-fired power plants.

"The combustion of sulfur-laden home heating oil increases concentrations of ozone and fine particles in the air that can trigger asthma episodes, exacerbate allergies, decrease lung function, and even shorten life expectancy" said Scott T. Santarella, President & CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. "When more than 12 million New Yorkers already live in counties where air pollution levels endanger lives, it's clear that we must take swift action to protect residents' lung health."

The Lung Association noted that while home heating oil is very similar to diesel fuel, it differs in that there is virtually no limit to the amount of sulfur that can be contained in home heating oil. Because of its high sulfur content, combustion of home heating oil makes it the second largest source of sulfur dioxide emissions in the state, with only the power sector emitting more.

"New York leads the nation in the amount of homes that are heated by oil," noted Santarella. "Particularly disturbing is the fact that 79 percent of the state's home heating oil consumption occurs in the New York metropolitan region. When all this heating oil is being burned in one concentrated area, it creates a localized pollution problem."

The Lung Association pointed out that home heating oil can be put through the same refining process as diesel fuel, which is currently used in trucks and all on-road and non-road (construction) diesel engines. This process reduces the concentration of sulfur from an average of 2600 parts per million (ppm) to 15 parts per million. This would eliminate 99.4 percent of the sulfur in home heating oil. What's more, the use of cleaner fuel has been shown to reduce nitrogen oxides, which are a key component in the formation of ozone (or smog).

"The passage of this bill is a large step forward in our fight for cleaner air," said Santarella. "We thank Senator Perkins for his leadership on this legislation and urge the Assembly to quickly pass and Governor Paterson to immediately sign this bill into law. It would be a major victory for the lung health of New Yorkers."