Air Pollution Control Commission
The Commission works to make our City a healthier and more comfortable place to live, work, and visit. We regulate activities that affect air quality and noise levels.
The Commission's programs and policies support our work to make Boston a carbon-neutral community by 2050. Reducing air pollution results in healthier air for Bostonians. We also reduce Boston's contribution to global climate change.
Approved regulation changes
The commission voted on September 16, 2020, to approve amended procedures and criteria for the issuance of permits for the:
- South Boston, and
- East Boston parking freezes.
Boston Air Pollution Control Commission
The Air Pollution Control Commission reviews, permits, and regulates activities that relate to air quality and noise, including:
- parking and idling
- abrasive blasting and chemical cleaning of buildings, and
- open burning and smoke from industrial sites.
We work with many other City Hall departments, and local, state and federal agencies, to make Boston a healthier place to live.Public hearings
We hold public hearings at least every three months. During hearings, the Commission reviews applications for parking freeze permits. The Commission may also discuss or make decisions related to:
- the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO)
- noise regulations, or
- other air pollution regulations.
|Filing Deadline||Hearing Date|
|February 12, 2021||March 17, 2021|
|March 12, 2021|
|April 9, 2021||May 12, 2021, at 1 p.m.|
|May 14, 2021||June 16, 2021|
|June 11, 2021||July 14, 2021, at 1 p.m.|
|August 13, 2021||September 15, 2021|
|November 12, 2021||December 15, 2021|
We hold hearings from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. in Room 900 at Boston City Hall (9th Floor), unless otherwise noted. Detailed hearing information will appear on the City's public notices page. Additional meetings may be scheduled. Meetings may be canceled if there are no permit applications for review.meeting minutes
Hearing agendas and meeting minutes from 1977 to the present are available for review.
Parking freezes reduce air pollution caused by cars by limiting off-street parking in a given area. The Commission oversees the Downtown, East Boston, and South Boston Parking Freezes. You can view a map of parking freeze areas in the City.
Noise in Boston
The Boston Municipal Code sets standards for reasonable noise levels. It also sets maximum acceptable noise levels for different times of day. An unreasonable level of noise is:
- anything louder than 50 decibels from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., or
- anything louder than 70 decibels at any time, except for permitted construction.
The Commission has developed regulations that apply to residential, business, and industrial districts. Our Commission and the Boston Police Department work together to enforce the rules on noise.
For noise concerns related to construction and industrial sites, or ventilation and air-conditioning equipment:
Diesel Emissions Reduction ordinance
The 2017 Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance (DERO):
- helps reduce harmful emissions from diesel vehicles and idling, and
- requires that all pre-2007 vehicles owned or leased by the City or used by its contractors to have been retrofitted with more effective emission-reduction equipment.
Other Air Pollution RegulationsOther Pollution Regulations
Buildings account for over seventy percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston. The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) requires that buildings over 35,000 square feet report their annual energy and water usage to the City. It also requires the City to make this data public. Buildings covered must also take steps to reduce their emissions every five years through energy actions or audits.
The City is developing a building emissions performance standard to cut carbon from existing large buildings.
Abrasive blasting uses water, sand, or other materials under high pressure to clean surfaces. Chemical cleaning uses chemicals and water to clean surfaces. If your project requires abrasive blasting or chemical cleaning, you will need to apply for a permit:
The Commission enforces Massachusetts General Law Chapter 310, CMR 7.00. The law states: “no person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the unnecessary operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while said vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes.” Violators may be fined up to $100 for the first offense.
- Massachusetts State Anti-Idling Law
- Frequently asked questions about the anti-idling law
- Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Video on Idling Cars