An expert finds New York City’s air is full of foreign matter, including rubber and rust

from Big Apple air is a bizarre brew of bacteria, pollen, clothing fiber, fungus, tire rubber, dead skin cells, cooking fat and carbon emissions. The truth of exactly what New Yorkers breathe comes courtesy of air expert Bill Logan, who grabbed a “spore sucker” of his own design and joined the Daily News for a tour of the city. The results might surprise you. Yes, there’s the expected pollution in midtown and the South Bronx, and neighborhoods with lots of trees tend to have pollen and fungus in the air. But each breath you take — about 33,000 a day — also might include spores, bacteria, pollens, tiny bits of glass, starch and fat. “Fat? I’ve never heard of that before!” said a surprised Alexis Lum, 32, in Brooklyn Heights. “It’s kind of gross.” Actually, it’s kind of normal, said Logan, author of “Air: The Restless Shaper of the World.” Air samples from midtown, for example, had a high number of skin cells from all races — a reflection, no doubt, of the neighborhood’s diversity. Chinatown had noticeable starch and fat in the air — “probably from the cooking of rice and noodles,” Logan said. A neighborhood’s air is an invisible stamp of its business, lifestyle and even culture, Logan said. That explains the readings in Williamsburg — elevated levels of blue jeans, tire rubber, nail polish and pollen, which Logan dubbed “the hipster sample.” The range of aerosols found in the air didn’t surprise Judith Zelikoff, a professor in the department of Environmental Medicine at New York University. “A lot of things that are in the air are a kind of a signature of what’s in that environment,” she said.

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