Tag Archives: air pollution

Be Air Aware During Air Quality Week May 1-5

28 Apr

Talking about a double whammy, pollen counts are giving a lot of us serious sneezing, red eyes, and breathing problems. Now, it is also the beginning of ozone season, a real air pollution problem in our region. When high pollen counts and air pollution occur together, their combined effects are even worse.

And while we can’t do much about pollen (check pollen counts here http://www.nynjpollen.com/), we can take a few steps to reduce ozone levels. That is why the DEP is kicking off the Air Quality Week between May 1-5 to educate the public about the health impacts of ozone and what to do to protect ourselves. Some things to know and actions to take to protect your health and the environment:

  • Ozone in the stratosphere is good because it protects the earth from ultraviolet rays. Ozone at the ground level is harmful for plants and humans. Elevated levels of ground ozone can trigger coughing, throat irritation, congestion, and can worsen bronchitis and asthma.  Ground ozone levels can be reduced by conserving energy, not idling, and driving less.
  • Ground level ozone is also known as smog and it is the large health threat in New Jersey. Smog damages lung tissue, and impacts natural photosynthesis in plants. Protect yourself when ozone levels are high by limiting outdoor activities. You can monitor air quality by signing up for alerts at http://www.gmtma.org/pg-community-air-quality.php.
  • Ozone levels in New Jersey have decreased in the past 10 years but we still have a lot to do.
  • Energy consumption is one of the big causes of air pollution because power plants release greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Turn off electronic devices when they are not used, unplug extra refrigerators if they are rarely used

You can calculate your carbon footprint here. New Jersey offers financial incentives to people who adopt greener driving habits. You can learn more about it here.

The Air Quality Partnership, a program of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) also encourages ozone reducing actions such as:

  • Take transit or rideshare.
  • Don’t top off your gas tank. Spillage adds two tons of pollution to the air each day.
  • Refuel at the end of the day. Ozone levels are highest in mid- to late-afternoon.
  • Be sure to clean out your trunk, since an extra 100 pounds reduces gas mileage by up to 2% and wastes fuel.
  • Trip-link when possible. Combining errands with your daily commute will save time, money, and the environment.
  • Follow regular maintenance schedules for your car. A properly running vehicle emits less pollution and saves gas.
    • Check your owner’s manual and properly inflate your tires. Properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage up to 3.3%.
    • When changing your oil, use a manufacturer-recommended grade motor oil to improve fuel economy by 1-2%.

If you want to further reduce your carbon footprint, learn how to reduce waste and save money along the way here.

Be air aware to enjoy an easy breathing Spring!

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Is Today Air Quality Day?

10 Jul

Starting mid-May through the beginning of September, there is a greater chance of having an Air Quality Action Day (we had a couple days in June already). Air Quality Action Days are declared when the ozone and particulate matter in the air reaches levels that are Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) or higher. A Code Orange means that people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone and the presence of particles in the air.

AIQ

According to airnow.org, exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone can have serious health effects. It can irritate the respiratory system, airway irritation, throat soreness and coughing, and chest tightness. It also affects lung function making it difficult to breath.

Children exposed to high levels of ozone are more likely to suffer aggravated asthma symptoms, asthma attacks, inflammation and lung tissue damage, even permanent lung damage.

Most people are not adversely affected by the conditions, but it is good to be cautious and make sure children playing outdoors are not having trouble breathing and that seniors have a place to go where there is air conditioning.

If you are wondering why this happens, the answer is pollution. And transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution in New Jersey, responsible for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.  (http://www.nj.gov/dep/sage/ce-ggi.html)

What can you do to reduce the level of pollution?

First, the less you drive and the cleaner and a more efficient vehicle you drive the less air pollution you create.  Carpooling, vanpooling, taking public transit, combining trips, and driving fewer miles can help curb the level of emissions. GMTMA can help you find alternate commuting solutions and even create a personalized transportation plan. You can find out more at gmtma.org

Second, don’t idle, turn of your engine if stopped for more than 10 seconds, to avoid CO2 emissions and getting a ticket.

Third, check AIQ Index and see if it is an Air Quality Action Day. There are other things you can do on Air Quality Days to help the air; you can find a cheat sheet here.

To receive Air Quality Action Day Alerts by email go here or follow us on Twitter @gmtma for timely updates.

Green Commuters Win at the Living Local Expo

1 Apr

 

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Green Commuters beat out the Gray Commuters this past Saturday at the Living Local Expo at the National Guard Armory in Lawrence.

GMTMA was an exhibitor at the event which drew almost 900 people and was sponsored by Sustainable Lawrence,  the municipal Green Teams of Lawrence, Ewing and Hopewell, and the Mercer County office of Business Development and Sustainability.

We conducted an informal survey that measured how many people had Green Commutes  or Gray Commutes.

      • Green Commute involves sharing a ride – carpool, vanpool, or taking the bus or train
      • Super Green Commute  does not directly give off any pollution – Telecommute, Walking or Biking, (scooter, roller blades, etc)
      • Gray Commute creates the most traffic congestion and air pollution by driving alone in a single occupancy vehicle.

For a bit in the beginning of the event it looked like the Gray commuters were going to prevail, but the rain didn’t keep the Green commuters down in the long run. There were 50 peanuts in the jar for the Gray commuters who drive alone to work or students that are dropped off at school by a special trip. But 92 peanuts in the jar for the Green Commuters! Super Green Commuters were a big help allowing the commuters who don’t create any air pollution (walk, bike, telecommute, etc) to add 2 peanuts to the jar. Because adults and kids alike who choose a travel mode that does not create air pollution, are helping themselves, their community and the air that everyone breathes.

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If you are interested in learning more about pollution in our air and which days have higher air pollution levels, sign up for AirNow Alerts to get an email the day before a predicted bad air quality day. These alerts allow you to change your travel mode to a Greener one when the air pollution levels are going to be high.