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Air Quality Awareness Week…   Clean Energy and Healthy Communities…   Sign Up for EnviroFlash

Monday, May 3: New Jersey Air Quality - A Message from Air Director Frank Steitz
Tuesday, May 4: Environmental Justice and Air Quality

Did You Know? 

The Murphy Administration has taken actions to establish New Jersey as a national leader in ensuring environmental equity and justice for all with respect to environmental policies.  New Jersey’s groundbreaking Environmental Justice Law, N.J.S.A. 13:1D-157, is one of the strongest and most empowering in the nation. The law was signed by Governor Murphy on September 18, 2020 and requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assess the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities in overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications. Governor Murphy also signed Executive Order 23 on April 20, 2018, which orders the DEP to develop guidance to promote environmental justice in the state by considering equity in government policies and programs. DEP issued Furthering the Promise: A Guidance Document for Advancing Environmental Justice Across State Government, to assist all state government agencies in advancing environmental justice. This guidance issued on October 1, 2020, further reinforces Governor Murphy’s commitment to protect overburdened communities, specifically those that are predominantly minorities with limited English proficiency, or economically disadvantaged, from environmental contaminants including air pollution.

Air Quality is important in overburdened communities because they are the most impacted by the effects of air pollution. Disproportionate concentration of air pollution and toxics and its possible health impacts including asthma, cancer and heart diseases are some of the disparities that exist in these communities. Our most vulnerable residents also experienced disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Environmental Justice (EJ) aims to address this disparity and ensure a fair treatment for all, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EJ will also provide the opportunity for people to be involved in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health. The DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) is dedicated to addressing environmental concerns to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s overburdened communities. OEJ also guides state agencies in incorporating environmental justice.

Get involved and support environmental justice in your community by taking the following actions:

  • Join and become active in an environmental justice organization
  • Join the DEP and ORJ mailing lists to stay up to date at
  • Join your local environmental commission or shade tree commission and attend meetings. For more information on environmental commissions, visit the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)
  • Download the WARNDEP App and save the hotline number in your phone (1-877-WARN-DEP)
  • Attend a DEP public meeting or submit comments
  • Attend city and town council meeting and /or participate in local organizing efforts
  • Contact your community, state, and federal representatives to share your comments about environmental issues. For more information, visit the New Jersey Legislature website or visit your local and county government website.
  • Teach youth and others about environmental protection and environmental justice
  • Learn more, visit

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to

Wednesday, May 5: Ozone and Air Toxics

Did You Know?

The NJDEP regulates both Ozone and Air Toxics.  Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant known to cause several health effects and negatively impact air quality and the environment in the state of New Jersey.  Ozone is formed when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight.  Ground-level ozone can irritate any set of lungs, but those with lung-related deficiencies should take extra precautions on bad ozone days.

Air toxics, also known as toxic air pollutants or hazardous air pollutants, are those pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental and ecological effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified 187 pollutants as hazardous air pollutants (HAPS).

Many household products contain VOCs.  VOCs contribute to the formation of Ozone and can also be Air Toxics. Common examples of VOCs that may be present in our daily lives are benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene. These chemicals are also considered to be air toxics. NJDEP Regulates VOCs in household products under N.J.A.C. 7:27-23 (Architectural Coatings) and N.J.A.C. 7:27-24 (Consumer Products).  Air Toxics are regulated under N.J.A.C. 7:27-17.

Some household products containing VOCs include:

  • paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • aerosol sprays
  • cleansers and disinfectants
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • pesticides

Actions: There are some things that you can do to avoid exposure to VOCs and air toxics in your home while also helping to prevent the formation of ground-level ozone.

  • Use paints, solvents, and cleaning products with little or no volatile organic compounds, preferably water-based products.
  • Avoid spray paints, most of which are solvent based. Very fine spray also can become airborne. Use paint brushes and rollers where possible.
  • Plan major painting, stripping and refinishing projects for spring and fall to avoid summer heat and sun, which react with vapors to create ozone pollution.  If you must use solvent-based products in the summer, limit their use to the evening and avoid high ozone days.
  • Tightly cap all solvents (paints, gasoline, paint thinners, strippers, degreasers) and store in a cool place to avoid evaporation.
  • Only buy what you need when it comes to paints, solvents, adhesive and caulks. Unused chemicals stored in the home can sometimes “leak” and release VOCs into the air.
  • Dispose of unused chemicals that are stored in your home or garage. Check with your city or county for household hazardous waste collection sites.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to

Thursday, May 6: Zero Carbon Transportation
green car

Did You Know?

Transportation is the largest source of ozone-forming pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey. Gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles emit nitrogen oxides, or NOx, which react with other pollutants to create ozone. Ground level ozone, also called smog, can cause permanent lung damage.  Particulate pollution from diesel vehicles can cause heart disease, lung disease and cancer.  Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, which causes more floods, droughts, or intense storms, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced big changes from greenhouse gases – oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.

Electric vehicles are roughly 80 percent cleaner than gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, even when you include emissions from the power plants used to produce the electricity needed to charge them.  Knowing this, Governor Murphy announced earlier this year that New Jersey will be investing an additional $100 million in electrification projects throughout the state.  These include public fast chargers for electric cars; electric school buses, NJ TRANSIT buses, garbage trucks and delivery trucks; replacing old diesel equipment with electric at ports and airports, and equitable mobility projects that will bring electric vehicle ride hailing, car sharing and shuttles to environmental justice cities.

Action: When you are in the market for your next vehicle, consider an electric car You can also take advantage of alternative travel options, like NJ Transit, ridesharing, bicycling, and walking.  If available through your workplace, choosing a work-from-home option can significantly limit your daily travel needs and associated transportation emissions.

To learn more about the performance, availability and comfort of electric vehicles, as well as how to save money and reduce pollution, visit DEP’s Drive Green New Jersey website

Additional Resources


For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to


Friday, May 7: Zero Carbon Homes, Buildings, Businesses, and Industrial Sources

Did you know 90% of all  New Jersey buildings will need to be electric to meet ththe State’s greenhouse gas reduction goals? The 2020 New Jersey Global   WWarming Response Act 80x50 Report highlights building electrification as a key st strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below the 2006 levels by 2050. Achieving the 80x50 goal will require significant installation of electric space  anand water heating. (2020 GWRA Figure 2.9)

Average Electrification Rate
in Residential and Commercial Buildings

Homes – As the State transitions further towards 100% clean energy, there will b  be an increasing amount of renewable energy on the grid to power electric heat pumps and water heaters in our homes.
The HVAC systems in our homes are energy intensive but action starts by making smarter buying decisions and practicing environmentally friendly habits at home. Check out these tips to learn how you can make a difference.

Business & Industry – Businesses in the Garden State have an important role to p  play in the transition to a clean energy economy. The New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry (NJSBR) recognizes members for the actions that they have implemented. The Registry provides businesses resources to measure and reduce their carbon footprint.   
The New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ PACT) regulatory reform effort has also identified stationary industrial sources as an important sector to decarbonize. NJ PACT

For more information on what the State is doing to address climate change and how can you help, visit

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to


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