First There Was A Permit to Dance

Now We Might Need One to Test the Air?

dancersThe concept of the cabaret law, which requires bars and clubs to attain a permit to allow more than 3 people to dance at a time seems laughable-even to our current Mayor. In the good ole days of “quality of life” improvements, Rudy Giuliani’s administration reinforced the laws to crack down on rowdy establishments that allowed dancing. What sinners! 
No dancing or air quality testing please. Thank you- The Establishment

That law, and the vague categorization of “Quality of Life Improvements,” came to mind when I thought about a law on the floor of City Council that would require anyone conducting air quality tests to attain a permit. (That includes 5th grade teachers who are using them in lesson plans.) The purpose of the law would be to ensure that there are no false alarms regarding terrorist attacks. This of course would cause unwarranted anxieties and reduce the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

But in a well argued op-ed to the New York Times, research scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University have detailed the many benefits that these air quality tests bring to the public. A strong example of why a law like this might actually hamper quality of life is their citing of a specific case where it was a private-not government-study that initially identified PCB contamination of the Hudson River.

While the need to maintain security and minimal anxiety over a terrorist attack is surely high on the political agenda, environmental and public health causes should not suffer. Critics of this proposed law-and there are many (see bottom of article)- would say that air quality testing for research purposes, without an extra layer of bureaucracy, does improve the collective quality of life. Just as critics of the cabaret law argued that dancing certainly adds more benefits than potential hazards to the quality of life for New Yorkers.


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