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UHart Engineering Professor and Students Find NYC’s High Line is Good for Your Health


Posted 01/26/2016
Posted by Meagan Fazio


The High Line in New York City.

The High Line in New York City.

Ethan Bourdeau '15, Dr. Eoin King, and Kevin Zheng '15 after presenting their research.

Ethan Bourdeau '15, Dr. Eoin King, and Kevin Zheng '15 after presenting their research.

The High Line, a New York City park built on an elevated section of an old railway, is an oasis in Manhattan, offering city-dwellers and tourists a place to escape the noise and congestion below. Now, research by a University of Hartford engineering professor and his students offers another reason to visit the park above the city’s West Side. It is good for your health.

Ethan Bourdeau ’15, Kevin Zheng ’15, and Assistant Professor Eoin King from the University’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture, measured air quality and noise levels along the High Line and at street level. They found air and noise pollution were significantly lower on the High Line.

“It stands to reason that the further you are away from the road, the less pollution you should be exposed to,” explains King. “What we did that was novel was we actually measured it. No one had measured it before.”

Ethan and Kevin took turns walking along the 1.45-mile-long High Line and on the street below in order to take the measurements. By the time they were finished, they had each walked 30 miles over the course of a weekend. It was worth the effort. They were named co-authors of the study, which found there was 37 percent less air and noise pollution on the High Line than on the sidewalk below. The study, done in collaboration with Trinity College in Dublin, was published in an international journal and they presented their work at an international conference in San Francisco.

Ethan and Kevin graduated in May of 2015 and are starting new careers. Kevin works for Electric Boat in New London, Conn. and Ethan works for Longman Lindsey, a consulting firm in New York City. And a big benefit is that their research could help people lead healthier lives.

“There are very real effects of noise pollution,” explains King, who is an expert in the field. “The most common is sleep disturbance, which leads to mood changes, depression, stress, lost productivity at work. Long-term exposure to noise can lead to heart attacks. It’s good for cities to provide their populations with these kinds of quiet areas or areas like parks.”

The High Line research was supported by funding from the University of Hartford under a 2014–2015 Greenberg Junior Faculty Grant.
The High Line in New York City.

The High Line in New York City.

Ethan Bourdeau '15, Dr. Eoin King, and Kevin Zheng '15 after presenting their research.

Ethan Bourdeau '15, Dr. Eoin King, and Kevin Zheng '15 after presenting their research.