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As local citizens, we all have an opportunity and an obligation to improve and protect our air, for our own health and for that of our children. Without a community consensus, and without strong goals to keep our air clean, we risk letting good air quality slip away from us. That has happened even in nearby areas. Once it’s gone, clean air is much harder to restore than it is to protect in the first place. If we each decide to make changes in personal habits that contribute to air pollution, even in seemingly small ways, together we can improve and preserve one of our most valuable natural assets-clear skies and healthy air.
As you read about the ways you can help improve air quality, choose just one of them to work on first. Make a commitment to yourself and share it with a friend. Enjoy your feeling of personal success in meeting that commitment. Then try another change from the list. If we all make small changes to our habits and lifestyles, together we’ll achieve air quality in this county that other Californians envy and dream about. We’ll set strong values for the health of our families and children.
Clean air is everyone’s business. To have great air quality , we all need to work together. Join the Air Pollution Control District in this effort and consider implementing these helpful tips into your everyday life.
You’ll find it’s more fun to drive with friends and coworkers than to drive alone. Ridesharing reduces traffic congestion and the need for expensive road improvements; that money can be better spent elsewhere. Ridesharing also saves on your costs for operating your car. Even just a few days a week will make a difference.
Ride a bicycle or walk
It doesn’t take much longer to ride a bike than to drive a car in most communities, and parking is free and easy. The exercise you will get has countless benefits. You will feel healthier, and find that you have more energy than ever. Use public transportation: Bus systems in cities and throughout the county are improving steadily, as ridership and public support increase. You will meet new friends on the bus, and you’ll have time to relax or get some work done.
Save up little trips and combine them, so you avoid high polluting starts of a cold engine. Driving to the store once a week is much better for our air than driving once a day.
Keep your car’s air conditioner in good shape
Have it serviced only at a repair shop which recovers and recycles the coolant. Leaky car air conditioners are the single greatest source of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions, which destroy the protective ozone layer in our upper atmosphere. Also make sure that the refrigerant is recovered from any home air conditioner or refrigerator you discard.
Keep your car well-tuned
If your car needs a tune-up or repairs, or if it smokes, it is causing more pollution than it should. Also, most cars today have important smog control devices. These must be checked by professionals to be sure they’re working right. A well-tuned vehicle uses less fuel, and costs less to operate in the long run.
Do not top off your tank
The gas nozzles at service stations shut off when your tank is full. Topping off rarely adds much more gas, and almost always results in spillage. This evaporates into the atmosphere and adds to the formation of ozone as a pollutant. It also exposes you to unhealthful levels of benzene, a carcinogen. Do not be a victim of this habit. Let the nozzle do its job.
Directly or indirectly, burning of fuel in all forms causes almost all of our air pollution. You can reduce your fuel use, and the resulting pollution, by insulating your home; turning lights off; resetting furnace (64F) and air conditioner thermostats (78t; lowering your water heater temperature; avoiding use of electric appliances during mid-day peak demand periods, and installing solar home heating. Become well-informed and vigilant about energy savings—you can make a real contribution to reductions in both air pollution and use of fossil fuels.
Use water-based paints instead of oil-based, use brushes and rollers instead of spraying, and avoid using spray cans. A sizeable part of our county’s ozone pollution comes from the hydrocarbons which evaporate from old-style paints and improper application.
Don’t use lighter fluid when you start a barbecue fire. Good alternatives are an electric probe or a simple three pound coffee can without top and bottom, made into a starter chimney. These work well, and they don’t leave your food with a kerosene after-taste.
Pre-1987 woodstoves and fireplaces are inefficient wood burners and significant polluters compared to newer models. Wood smoke also contains some nasty carcinogens which invariably accumulate in your home. If you have a fireplace or older stove in your home, call your local dealer to find out how to get it to burn cleaner, or replace it with a clean-burning version. You will be helping yourself, your family and your neighbors.
Do not burn trash, prunings, or leaves
Trash collection is available countywide, and many yard wastes can be usefully composted. Outdoor burning to dispose of waste uses our air as a dump.
Use a Broom
Leafblowers cause air pollution. They stir up settle fine particles, and just move a problem somewhere else. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the emissions from the blower engine alone are about twice as polluting as an average car. Try a broom—it works great, without any negative air quality impact and you’ll get more exercise.
Packaging, paper and recycling
Wasteful use of paper and packaging materials consumes trees. Choose products wisely, thinking about conservation and minimal waste. Recycle, and use recycled paper and other products. Recycled glass and aluminum use far less energy and cause less air pollution.
Support alternate work schedules
Working longer hours each day, and fewer days each month, means fewer commute trips. There are many other effective ways to cut back on motor vehicle emissions from commuting.
Carpool to Work
Ask your employer to designate carpool parking spots. In preferred locations, this is a powerful incentive to rideshare. Also, encourage your employer to develop a program which recognizes employees who use alternative transportation.
Environmental education in schools
Children need to learn good values early. By their good actions and questions, they are very effective at influencing the wasteful or polluting habits of their elders.
Support bike lanes & transit improvements
Safe, convenient and affordable transportation alternatives are essential to cleaner air. Let your elected decision-makers at all levels of government know how you feel about air quality and better transportation. Tell them their support of continued efforts to improve air quality is important to you.
Speak up for air quality
Share your thoughts and ideas with friends and neighbors. Tell people about the changes you’ve made and that you’re doing your share. Encourage them to join you in setting strong air quality and lifestyle values.
Remember, Clean Air is Everyone’s Business!
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