Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat for Cleaner Air!

Carved Pumpkinsimage by Teo used under Creative Commons license

Happy Halloween! On the scariest holiday of the year, New Yorkers across the metro area will dress up in costumes and walk around their neighborhoods trick-or-treating. The phrase is actually a question for the person answering the door, who then has the choice of giving the visitor a treat or having the visitor play some kind of trick on the person. In the spirit of Halloween, we’re going to list three facts about air quality — can you guess which ones are tricks and which ones are treats?

#1: Small changes to my transportation behavior can have a big impact on improving air quality.

#2: New York’s only harmful air pollutant is ground-level ozone.

#3: There’s nothing wrong with topping off my gas tank to get the price to a round number and to ensure I get as much out of each trip to the gas station as possible.

Take a moment before reading on to guess which of the above statements are true (treats) and which are false (tricks)!


#1: TREAT! Small changes to your transportation habits can and do have a big effect on improving air quality. For example, in 2009 New Yorkers reduced air pollution by almost 8.5 million pounds every week just by doing simple things like taking mass transit, carpooling and combining multiple errands into one trip.

#2: TRICK! Although ground-level ozone is the cause for most days when air pollution is high, there is another form of air pollution that we need to be aware of called particulate matter. This matter has fine particles small enough to be absorbed by the body when you breathe them into your lungs; once inside the bloodstream, these particles can produce harmful effects on your health.

#3: TRICK! Topping off your gas tank, instead of stopping when the pump clicks, causes gasoline fumes to escape into the air where they turn into harmful air pollutants. You can go a long way to improving air quality just by stopping when you hear the gas pump “click!”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Global Air Quality Comparison for United Nations Day

Country Flagsimage by MPD01605 used under Creative Commons license

October 24 marked the 66th anniversary of the United Nations, commonly known as “United Nations Day” around the world. To honor this day, let’s look at how two international cities are addressing the issue of air quality.

In the early 1990s, air pollution in Delhi, India, was becoming a serious problem. In response, India’s Ministry of Environments and Forests launched a plan to improve air quality and to significantly reduce pollution levels. Officials instituted a fleet of buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), implemented more stringent clean-fuel requirements and emission levels and even imposed a pollution tax. The results: From 1993 to 2000, ambient carbon monoxide was nearly cut in half and lead concentrations fell by 75 percent. As buses continued to be converted to CNG from 2000 to 2003, sulfur dioxide levels decreased by 34.8 percent and particulate matter levels fell by 7 percent. This led the U.S. Department of Energy to award Delhi the Clean Cities International Award in 2003 for its aggressive efforts in curbing pollution.

In the 1980s, Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), was one of the most-polluted European cities. Since then, city leaders have enacted programs to decrease the usage of brown coal in power plants, which has significantly reduced sulfur dioxide levels. Now, similar to many urban areas, these officials face air-quality problems because of emissions from vehicle traffic. They have an emergency plan in place where, if air pollution rises above set limits, they stop traffic in the center of Prague to re-route polluting vehicles around the city and to force travelers to find alternate methods for traveling within Prague.

As you can see, air pollution in urban areas is a problem around the globe because of increases in vehicular travel. With so many transportation alternatives in the New York metro area, there are many options that are less polluting. Whenever possible, we encourage New Yorkers to take mass transit, carpool, bike or walk to their destinations to help reduce air pollution and to improve our own air quality.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Continue Watching for Air Quality Action Days this Autumn

Suitimage by D Sharon Pruitt used under Creative Commons license

Fall signals the peak period for ground-level ozone pollution has passed, but reducing New York’s air pollution requires effort year-round. Air Quality Action Days are most common during summer, but ground-level ozone and particulate matter can reach unhealthy levels at any time of the year. Clean Air NY wants to encourage you to continue taking action to improve air quality this fall.

One of the most effective ways for New Yorkers to reduce air pollution is to cut the time spent driving alone. Even if you do so only occasionally, taking alternate forms of transportation, such as mass transit, carpools and vanpools, goes a long way to lessen the many harmful pollutants entering our air from vehicle exhaust. If you have to drive alone, you can decrease the miles you drive by combining all of your errands into one trip and by bringing lunch to work.

If you don’t already get our Air Quality Action Day updates, which we send whenever air pollution is predicted to be high, sign up now! To receive these updates via text message, simply text the word “clean” to the number 42269. You also can follow Clean Air NY on our social media sites. “Like” our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Whichever method you choose, signing up will alert you when air pollution will be at its highest levels and you will be able to take action to reduce pollution at the most critical times.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Make Your Boss Look Good To Honor National Boss Day

Suitimage by faramarz used under Creative Commons license

This year in the United States, National Boss Day was observed on Monday, Oct. 17. There’s probably no better gift than making your bosses look good to their own supervisors. In honor of the holiday, Clean Air NY encourages you to tell your bosses about the benefits of teleworking. You’ll enhance your bosses’ standing while you reduce air pollution.

Imagine if your bosses could tell their supervisors that they found a way to improve employee productivity and to reduce overhead costs at the same time. It would almost certainly make them stand out as people who are generating positive results for their companies. Numerous studies have all concluded that telework produces these results.

Employees who are able to telework on at least some of their workdays wind up rewarding their companies with improved performance and longer tenures. A meta-analysis of 46 telecommuting studies by the Journal of Applied Psychology “found that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance and higher performance ratings by supervisors.” Telework also saves the companies money by reducing overhead costs for employees who spend less time in the office. And best of all? Working from home means you’re not driving to the office and back, so you’re reducing emissions and improving air quality for everyone!