Back to top
Last updated:

Air pollution in Boston

The Boston Air Pollution Control Commission works to maintain healthy air quality and noise levels in the City.

Have questions? Contact us:

Air Pollution Control Commission
1 City Hall Square, Room 709
Boston, MA 02201

Learn about the rules

What we do

The Air Pollution Control Commission protects residents against several forms of air pollution that:

  • cause a nuisance
  • are harmful to people, animals, vegetation, or property, or
  • unreasonably affect residents’ right to enjoy life or conduct business.
Who we work with

We work with state and federal agencies to improve air quality in New England. We do this by:

  • enforcing ordinances related to air quality
  • granting permits that meet specific conditions, and
  • holding public hearings.
Pollutants in Boston

We have rules that regulate various pollutants in the City, including:

  • the burning of coal, residual fuel oil, distillate fuel oil and gas
  • the density of smoke particulates that can be produced
  • the use of abrasive blasting and chemicals to clean buildings
  • the open burning of material (contact the Fire Department to see if it's legal)
  • the dust and noise from construction sites and other sources
  • exhaust from idling vehicles, and
  • the parking freeze initiative.
Idling your car

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. The Commission also educates drivers and institutions about the costs of excessive idling.

Electric vehicles

What are electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles are cars or other vehicles that run completely, or in part, on electricity. They produce less pollution from the tailpipe, and can often save people money.

We're taking steps to make sure electric vehicle drivers have access to safe and convenient places to charge in Boston. This effort is part of Boston’s Complete Streets mission. It's also part of our commitment to sustainability.

ARE YOU Interested in going electric?

Check out Recharge Boston, our electric vehicle resource program. You can:

  • learn more about electric vehicles
  • download how-to guides for installation, and
  • learn about state grants and incentives.

Have an electric vehicle? You can find a public charging station on this interactive map:

Electric Vehicle map