Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Is An Air Quality Action Day?

Air Quality Action Days are announced when air quality is predicted to be in the unhealthy range, in parts or all of the New York metropolitan area. This affects everyone, especially sensitive groups such as those with heart and lung problems or asthma, the elderly and children. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for analyzing air pollution data and forecasts whether air quality will approach or exceed unhealthy levels. Based on these forecasts, the New York State Department of Transportation issues an Air Quality Action Day and Clean Air NY sends an update to our network. On these days, all of us in the New York metro area are asked to make a special effort – such as driving less – to reduce activities that contribute to air pollution.

These are days that are all about making smart travel choices.

Here is a to-do list on an Air Quality Action Day:

* Stay Indoors. Seize the opportunity to catch up on the television programs you recorded, to play board games with your family or to finish that book you started months ago.
Limit Driving. Reschedule your trips and errands to another day, if possible. If you must travel, try to limit driving and engine idling; even better -- don’t drive and work from home.
* Refuel After Dark. Filling your tank in the evening prevents certain pollutants from being emitted that react with sunlight and heat to create ground-level ozone.
* Combine Trips. You can save time while you are improving the air. Instead of going home after work and then back out to the gym or to the grocery store, plan ahead and combine your errands into one trip, even on the weekends.
*Bike, Walk or Use Public Transit. Forgoing your car just one day a week for a year could save about 1,000 miles on the vehicle and $500 in total driving costs.1 You’ll not only gain extra money but all the health benefits from walking or biking as you help to reduce air pollution.
*Share a Ride. Whenever possible, share a ride by carpooling or vanpooling to your destination. To find a carpool partner or vanpool, visit

The forecast for an Air Quality Action Day typically is determined a day ahead of the actual day. Clean Air NY will alert you to an upcoming Air Quality Action Day through an Air Quality Action Day Update. The update will arrive via e-mail or text message with information on how to improve air quality and to avoid air pollution effects on the Action Day.

May usually begins the season for Air Quality Action Days, so be sure to sign up today to receive your updates from Clean Air NY by visiting or text air to 42269. We also suggest that you start trying the travel behaviors we’ve outlined now to be ready when Air Quality Action Days are announced.

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

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