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State DEC to test air quality

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has announced plans to work with a group of 23 residents and community associations statewide to conduct air quality control tests in their neighborhoods.

Participants, including at least five groups and individuals in Suffolk County, can collect air samples, using equipment from the Environmental Protection Agency, which the state will examine. The testing is part of the Community Air Screen Program, which received about $170,000 from the EPA and is expected to last a year.

"We're enlisting the help of community organizations to help take some air quality samples," said Lisa King, a DEC spokeswoman. "We'll test them in our lab to see if there are any areas of concern."

Joseph Dispigno, a West Babylon resident who teaches environmental science in Roslyn, said he applied for the program because he was concerned about the air quality on his block since it is near two major supermarkets where delivery trucks idle.

"I was hoping we could get the air tested and get some peace of mind that everything's OK," Dispigno said. "If not, we could get some concrete evidence for the town to do something about the trucks."

Bruce Ettenberg, president of the Commack Community Association, said residents there have complained about odors. He suspects they are a byproduct of mulch and a local asphalt plant. "People are getting sick to their stomachs from the smell," he said.

King said part of the selection criteria were if requests came from what are typically "communities of color that suffer disproportionately from air pollutants. Usually there's a high concentration of auto mechanic shops, or other factories."

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