Thursday, March 26, 2009

What is the Relationship Between Climate, Weather, Air Quality and Health?

Monday, March 23rd was World Meteorological Day, and the theme was the relationship between climate, weather, air quality and health. In response, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization put out a warning that about two million people die prematurely every year due to air pollution. The World Meteorological Organization’s Secretary-General says "For the air quality, what we are talking about is not only the sort of traditional pollutants as you could imagine them," he noted. "But, it is also many of the gases, which are the greenhouse gases that are also influencing the quality of the air when they are abundant in the lower atmosphere." To read more, please visit:

Clean Air NY is an initiative sponsored by the NY State Department of Transportation in support of regionwide air quality efforts. Clean Air NY’s network of individuals and businesses believes that every person has the power to help make New York’s air healthier and protect our community from the effects of climate change. In an effort to reduce vehicle miles traveled, Clean Air NY educates the public on simple changes to everyday travel choices and provides real-time updates on Air Quality Action Days via text messaging, e-mail and media notifications. To learn more, visit

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ozone Pollution Amplifies Risk of Fatal Respiratory Illnesses

A study was recently released by the New England Journal of Medicine showing the deadly effects of long-term exposure to ozone pollution. The study followed almost 450,000 Americans in 96 metropolitan areas and results showed that exposure to ozone pollution increases deaths from respiratory diseases.

In the USA Today Article below, Ms. Janice Nolen, Assistant Vice President of National Policy and Advocacy for the American Lung Association, was quoted as saying “the study shows yet another way that air pollution can harm public health.”

This further strengthens the importance of public service initiatives such as Clean Air NY. Sponsored by the New York State Department of Transportation, Clean Air NY is a network of individuals, employers, employees, and community organizations in the New York metro area committed to the idea that every person can take part in making our air cleaner and healthier.

Some of the actions that Clean Air NY is taking include:

* Sending real-time Air Quality Action Day updates via text messages and e-mail notifications on days when air quality is forecasted to be in the unhealthy range.

* Working with employers, community groups, universities, and the general public to promote alternative travel behaviors such as taking mass transit, trip chaining, carpooling, bicycling and walking, especially on Air Quality Action Days.

* Partnering with local transportation management associations and organizations to help New Yorkers find alternative, "greener" transportation options - including a free carpool matching service

For a copy of the full USA Today article, check out:

Ozone Pollution Amplifies Risk of Fatal Respiratory Illnesses
By Liz Szabo, USA Today

For a copy of the New England Journal of Medicine abstract, check out:

New York City Strengthens Anti-Idling Laws

Last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation reducing the amount of time that vehicles can idle near schools and expanding the city's enforcement of idling laws. Under the new law, which does not apply to emergency service vehicles, the legal idling time is reduced from three minutes to one minute. The law also encourages greater public awareness by requiring that applicants for licenses to operate for–hire vehicles demonstrate their knowledge of idling laws.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund's August 2008 report Idling Gets You Nowhere, idling cars and trucks in New York City annually produce 760 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, the equivalent of 3,000 large trucks each driving one million miles. They also produce 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Citywide, idling also wastes on average 14,000 gallons of gasoline and 11,000 gallons of diesel each day.

Debunking 5 Myths about Idling
  1. Idling does not warm up the engine efficiently or effectively.
  2. Although idling powers heating and cooling systems, it creates harmful in–cabin pollution.
  3. Idling does not reduce engine and ignition starter wear compared with restarting.
  4. Restarting the engine does not require more fuel if the vehicle will be stopped for more than ten seconds.
  5. Running the engine will not avoid a ticket by creating the appearance that the driver is not parked or will return shortly – it is still a violation of New York City and State law.

To sign up for real-time Air Quality Action Day updates, text AIR to 42269 or visit

Clean Air NY is sponsored by the New York State Department of Transportation in support of regionwide air-quality efforts.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Telecommuter Appreciation Week

The American Telecommuting Association (ATA) has declared this week, March 1 - March 7, 2009, “Telecommuter Appreciation Week,” honoring Alexander Graham Bell, whose birthday is March 3.

Clean Air NY is celebrating “Telecommuter Appreciation Week” by saluting all the telecommuters in the New York metro area. Since their only commute is from room to room, they are improving New York’s air quality by reducing vehicle miles traveled.

The ATA listed the three main benefits of telecommuting. Clean Air NY especially appreciates #3:

1. The individual and family benefit from saved time, lower commuting expenses, reduced stress, more scheduling flexibility, greater satisfaction regarding work and the pleasure in spending more time together.
2. The employer benefits from greater productivity, loyalty and job satisfaction, a stronger focus on job performance, better recruiting and longer retention of the most productive employees and reduced overhead and facility expenses.
3. Society as a whole benefits from reduced traffic congestion, minimized air pollution, lower requirements for (and strain on) transportation infrastructure and decreased demand for scarce and nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels.

CA, Inc. of Islandia, NY, one of the world's largest IT management software providers based in New York, recently implemented its “Flexible Workplace Program.” Long Island Transportation Management Inc. (LITM) assisted CA in establishing this program, which enables qualified employees to forego commuting to work and allows them to work from home. Clean Air NY recognized CA’s telecommuting initiative and honored it as a 2008 Clean Air NY Champion. CA's Joe Archila, vice president of human resources programs, said, “We feel strongly about offering our employees air quality-friendly and healthy commute options. It not only helps to improve our air quality, but it also helps our company attract and retain top talent while enhancing productivity.”

Andrea Vera, operations manager of CommuterLink offered this advice: “Telecommuting is not suitable to every job, person or situation. The decision has to be mutually agreed upon between the employer and employee, the job has to be conducive to working remotely and the home office must have the appropriate equipment (computer, phone, fax, printer, copier, etc.)” Check out the telecommute section of CommuterLink’s Web site for more telecommuting tips.

Another suggestion? A company could allow telecommuting specifically on air quality action days, when ground-level ozone levels are at their highest. On those days, it is crucial to drive less to avoid worsening the already poor air quality. To find out more about air quality action days and to receive updates when they occur, please visit

If you would like to use the momentum of Telecommute Appreciation Week to establish a telecommute program at your company or would like to propose this idea to your human resources department, please reference MetroPool’s telecommute resources.

For more information on telecommuting in:

· Long Island, contact LITM.
· Lower Hudson Valley, contact MetroPool.
· New York City, contact CommuterLink.

Happy Telecommuter Appreciation Week!

Jessica Horne is Marketing and Outreach Associate of Clean Air NY.