DEP LAUNCHES NEW CLEAN AIR PUBLIC OUTREACH CAMPAIGN
NEW WEBSITE OFFERS WEALTH OF INFORMATION ON STEPS THE PUBLIC CAN TAKE TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY
(15/P19) TRENTON – As part of its commitment to improving air quality in New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection has launched CleanAirNJ, a campaign that is designed to educate state residents on steps they can take in their own lives to reduce air pollution for a healthier environment.
“The Christie Administration has implemented broad policies and initiatives to improve the air we breathe, from battling air pollution that blows in from other states to fostering the growth of the renewable energy portfolio in our state,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “This new campaign will provide residents with individual and practical ways to make a difference.”
A new website, www.CleanAir.NJ.gov, will serve as the cornerstone of the campaign, providing useful information on the health impacts of air pollution, in particular ozone-smog, as well as steps residents can take in their own lives to reduce pollution. The campaign will also utilize brochures and a CleanRideNJ pyramid that offers advice on reducing pollution from motor vehicles, a major source of pollutants that cause ozone-smog.
The website provides information about smog formation and its impacts on health and the environment; tips for the public to reduce their contribution to smog formation; information on what to do to protect your health on days with high ozone concentrations; directions on how to get daily smog alerts; links to more specific information and outreach brochures specifically created for the campaign; and information on how to sign up for a “CleanAirNJ” listserv.
While New Jersey recently attained a significant milestone – for the first time attaining federal standards for fine particles, a type of pollutant that can seriously affect lung health – the state does not meet the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone. This is due in large part to the large numbers of motor vehicles in the region.
Ozone in the upper atmosphere helps protect the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. But in the lower atmosphere it is a respiratory irritant. It is caused by a chemical reaction between certain types of air pollutants, sunlight, and warm temperatures. It is most prevalent in warmer months. Motor vehicles contribute more than half of the pollutants that create ozone pollution. People with respiratory conditions need to take precautions, such as staying indoors and limiting outdoors exercise, when ozone alerts are issued.
“We have done an excellent job controlling emissions from a variety of in-state sources of pollutants that cause smog – namely oxides of nitrogen and harmful chemical vapors known as volatile organic compounds that are emitted from industries, motor vehicles and consumer products,” said Jane Herndon, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management.
“In addition, New Jersey has taken a leadership role in addressing emissions that are generated in our neighboring states and then transported into New Jersey by the prevailing winds,” Assistant Commissioner Herndon said. “This public campaign complements those efforts, giving New Jersey a comprehensive approach to meeting the federal health standard and protecting its residents.”
Some practical tips on how the public can improve air quality include:
- Turning off the engine and avoid unnecessary idling; 10 seconds of idling also uses more fuel than turning the engine off and then on again.
- Keep vehicle tires properly inflated to increase your gas mileage, thereby reducing the amount of smog-forming pollutants emitted from your vehicle.
- Keep vehicles and heavy equipment properly tuned to increase engine efficiency, thereby reducing emissions of smog-forming pollutants.
- If your vehicle’s check engine light comes on, it could mean that your vehicle’s emission controls are not working properly. Take your vehicle in for service and get it repaired if needed.
- Make sure to get vehicles inspected on schedule. For more information about NJ’s vehicle inspection program, go to www.njinspections.com
- Combine errands and trips in the vehicle to reduce "cold starts."
- Don’t speed. Wind resistance from increased speed burns more fuel, thereby increasing the amount of pollution that forms smog.
- Choose a cleaner commute — form car pools, use public transportation, bike or walk when possible.
- Keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature in the summer, and use timed thermostats that increase the temperature when cooling isn’t needed. This reduces the load on power plants, thereby reducing the amount of smog-forming pollutants they emit.
- Minimize yard work that involves power equipment (mowing, edging, mulching, and trimming) on high ozone days, or reschedule that work for good air quality days.
- Use paints, solvents, and cleaning products with little or no volatile organic compounds, preferably water-based products.
- Avoid spray paints, most of which us solvents containing volatile chemicals. Very fine spray also can become airborne. Use paint brushes and rollers when possible.
- Plan major painting, stripping and refinishing projects for spring and fall to avoid summer heat and sun. If you have to 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, and degreasers) and store in a cool place to avoid evaporation.
For more information on air quality in New Jersey, including a link to information about the state’s air monitoring network and daily air quality reports, please visit: the Division of Air Quality website at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/daq/