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Concept: Manhattan


Human-induced rapid environmental change has created a global pandemic of neurobehavioral disorders in which industrial compounds like lead are the root cause. We assessed the feral pigeon (Columba livia) as a lead bioindicator in New York City. We collected blood lead level records from 825 visibly ill or abnormally behaving pigeons from various NYC neighborhoods between 2010 and 2015. We found that blood lead levels were significantly higher during the summer, an effect reported in children. Pigeon blood lead levels were not significantly different between years or among neighborhoods. However, blood lead levels per neighborhood in Manhattan were positively correlated with mean rates of lead in children identified by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as having elevated blood lead levels (>10 μg/dl). We provide support for the use of the feral pigeon as a bioindicator of environmental lead contamination for the first time in the U.S. and for the first time anywhere in association with rates of elevated blood lead levels in children. This information has the potential to enable measures to assess, strategize, and potentially circumvent the negative impacts of lead and other environmental contaminants on human and wildlife communities.

Concepts: New York, Columbidae, Queens, Manhattan, Rock Pigeon, Blood lead level, Lead poisoning, New York City


In a dark time, the eye begins to see. - Theodore Roethke The clouds were heavier, the air thicker. The wind picked up. The news that the subways would be shut down at 7 p.m. spread quickly by word of mouth. The streets in our Greenwich Village neighborhood were filled with people carrying food and water to their apartments. From my home, I could see the lights of LaGuardia and Kennedy airports and the imposing red-brick power station with its four smokestacks on 14th Street and the East River. We spent the weekend filling our bathtub with water and all . . .

Concepts: Light, The Bitter End, Lower Manhattan, Barbra Streisand, 14th Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, Manhattan


The microbiome of wild Mus musculus (house mouse), a globally distributed invasive pest that resides in close contact with humans in urban centers, is largely unexplored. Here, we report analysis of the fecal virome of house mice in residential buildings in New York City, NY. Mice were collected at seven sites in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx over a period of 1 year. Unbiased high-throughput sequencing of feces revealed 36 viruses from 18 families and 21 genera, including at least 6 novel viruses and 3 novel genera. A representative screen of 15 viruses by PCR confirmed the presence of 13 of these viruses in liver. We identified an uneven distribution of diversity, with several viruses being associated with specific locations. Higher mouse weight was associated with an increase in the number of viruses detected per mouse, after adjusting for site, sex, and length. We found neither genetic footprints to known human viral pathogens nor antibodies to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus.IMPORTANCE Mice carry a wide range of infectious agents with zoonotic potential. Their proximity to humans in the built environment is therefore a concern for public health. Laboratory mice are also the most common experimental model for investigating the pathobiology of infectious diseases. In this survey of mice trapped in multiple locations within New York City over a period of 1 year, we found a diverse collection of viruses that includes some previously not associated with house mice and others that appear to be novel. Although we found no known human pathogens, our findings provide insights into viral ecology and may yield models that have utility for clinical microbiology.

Concepts: Manhattan, Microbiology, The Bronx, New York, Mouse, Murinae, New York City, House mouse


Human commensal species such as rodent pests are often widely distributed across cities and threaten both infrastructure and public health. Spatially-explicit population genomic methods provide insights into movements for cryptic pests that drive evolutionary connectivity across multiple spatial scales. We examined spatial patterns of neutral genome-wide variation in brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) across Manhattan, New York City (NYC) using 262 samples and 61,401 SNPs to understand: 1) relatedness among nearby individuals and the extent of spatial genetic structure in a discrete urban landscape; 2) the geographic origin of NYC rats, using a large, previously-published dataset of global rat genotypes; and 3) heterogeneity in gene flow across the city, particularly deviations from isolation-by-distance. We found that rats separated by ≤200m exhibit strong spatial autocorrelation (r = 0.3, p = 0.001) and the effects of localized genetic drift extend to a range of 1400m. Across Manhattan, rats exhibited a homogeneous population origin from rats that likely invaded from Great Britain. While traditional approaches identified a single evolutionary cluster with clinal structure across Manhattan, recently-developed methods (e.g., fineSTRUCTURE, sPCA, EEMS) provided evidence of reduced dispersal across the island’s less residential Midtown region resulting in fine-scale genetic structuring (FST = 0.01) and two evolutionary clusters (Uptown and Downtown Manhattan). Thus, while some urban populations of human commensals may appear to be continuously distributed, landscape heterogeneity within cities can drive differences in habitat quality and dispersal, with implications for the spatial distribution of genomic variation, population management, and the study of widely distributed pests. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Midtown Manhattan, Manhattan, Rodent, Genetics, Population genetics, Rat, New York City, Brown rat


The role of neighborhood physical activity resources on childhood physical activity level is increasingly examined in pediatric obesity research. We describe how availability of physical activity resources varies by individual and block characteristics and then examine its associations with physical activity levels of Latino and black children in East Harlem, New York City.

Concepts: Childhood, United States, United Kingdom, Obesity, New Jersey, Harlem, Manhattan, New York City


On a Friday 6 months ago, a hurricane and two storms were on course to converge over New York. In preparation at the laboratory that day, we made contingency plans in case of a power outage. Three of us would come in as soon as it was safe to check the freezers and incubators. Our laboratories were on the 18th floor of the Veterans Affairs (VA) New York Harbor Healthcare System, part of the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine complex on the banks of the East River in Manhattan. Here, our group was working on the development of . . .

Concepts: Queens, Greenwich Village, New Jersey, New York University, Medicine, The Bronx, Manhattan, New York City


Around 9 p.m. on October 29, 2012, the bright lights at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center flickered and went out. Dr. Harris Nagler, hospital president, stepped out onto 16th Street to find every building around him in shadow. “I remember feeling a kind of awe,” he says, “that despite all of the complex variables, meteorologists predicted this almost to the minute, and there it was in front of us, happening.” Hurricane Sandy, one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes on record, had arrived. A few blocks away, New York Downtown Hospital and the Manhattan VA Medical Center had been evacuated, and . . .

Concepts: Hurricane Ike, Downtown, Manhattan, United States, New York City, Tropical cyclone, Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Katrina


Energy policies and public health are intimately intertwined. In New York City, a series of policies, known as the Clean Heat Program (CHP), were designed to reduce air pollution by banning residual diesel fuel oils, #6 in 2015 and #4 by 2030. This measure is expected to yield environmental and public health benefits over time. While there is near-universal compliance with the #6 ban, a substantial number of buildings still use #4. In this paper, geographic analysis and qualitative interviews with stakeholders were used to interrogate the CHP’s policy implementation in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. A total of 1724 (53%) of all residential residual fuel burning buildings are located in this region. Stakeholders reflected mostly on the need for the program, and overall reactions to its execution. Major findings include that government partnerships with non-governmental organizations were effectively employed. However, weaknesses with the policy were also identified, including missed opportunities for more rapid transitions away from residual fuels, unsuccessful outreach efforts, cost-prohibitive conversion opportunities, and (the perception of) a volatile energy market for clean fuels. Ultimately, this analysis serves as a case study of a unique and innovative urban policy initiative to improve air quality and, consequently, public health.

Concepts: Manhattan, Marine fuel management, Fuel, Implementation, Diesel fuel, Fuel oil, New York City, Petroleum


We previously reported a modest excess of cancer in World Trade Center (WTC)-exposed firefighters versus the general population. This study aimed to separate the potential carcinogenic effects of firefighting and WTC exposure by comparing to a cohort of non-WTC-exposed firefighters.

Concepts: Wall Street, Manhattan, September 11 attacks, Port Authority Trans-Hudson, Lower Manhattan, Empire State Building, World Trade Center, New York City


Although permanent tattoos are becoming increasingly commonplace, there is a paucity of epidemiological data on adverse tattoo reactions. Several European studies have indicated that tattoo reactions may be relatively common, although the extent of this phenomenon in the United States is largely unknown.

Concepts: Global city, Manhattan, New Jersey, U.S. state, United Kingdom, Chicago, United States, New York City