Regional Air Quality Slips Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels
Clean Air Partners Offers Simple Steps to Reduce Air Pollution and Protect Public Health
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cleaner air is a casualty as more and more employees return to their workplaces in the Baltimore-Washington region and congestion from commuter traffic increases. After a dramatic drop in the number of air quality alert days during the height of the Covid pandemic, last year brought a shift back to pre-pandemic levels. The number of days in 2021 when concentrations of ozone exceeded health standards climbed to eight days in the Washington region and 17 days in the Baltimore region – almost five times the number in 2020, when millions of people and their vehicles stayed home.
As it launches its annual ozone season public education campaign, Clean Air Partners is urging area residents to stick with the good habits they adopted during the pandemic. The campaign takes place with Ozone Action Month in August, traditionally the hottest month of the year and when ground-level ozone is highest. Ground-level ozone impacts lung function for those most sensitive to poor air quality such as children, older adults, and people with respiratory conditions.
“We’ve seen what a big difference less traffic and fewer emissions can make to air quality,” said Randy Mosier, Clean Air Partners Board Chair. “Clean air is good for everyone. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to continue taking a few simple steps that reduce air pollution and also save people money.”
Clean air advocates are hoping area residents will hold to their post-pandemic plans to work and travel differently and remind employers and managers that hybrid and remote working options for employees both promote good retention and help clean the air. In The TPB Voices of the Region Survey completed last year, 79% of respondents said they had concerns about traffic congestion and its impact on their lives. Given the choice, 91% preferred to work from home at least on some days, and more than half said they planned to walk more. Less driving means less air pollution, and as gas prices are high, it also means more money in drivers’ pockets as they spend less at the gas pump.
Clean Air Partners is reminding area residents to take simple, proven steps that will improve air quality and can save money:
- Drive less by walking, biking or taking transit when possible. Consolidate trips when you can and work from home as many days as possible.
- Set your thermostat a few degrees higher and use a fan to keep cool and reduce energy consumption.
- Postpone mowing and trimming on poor air quality days or use electric garden equipment.
- Reduce vehicle emissions by checking your tires’ air pressure regularly and using your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil—check for the “energy-conserving” label. Oil that contains friction-reducing additives and properly inflated tires both reduce emissions. Your tires will last longer and improve gas mileage, saving you money.
- If you’re traveling this summer, pack light. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your fuel economy by up to 2%.
- Fill up your gas tank in the cooler temperatures of the early morning or during the evening to prevent fuel evaporation and reduce fumes that are harmful to breathe. Avoid topping off your tank and always tighten your gas cap to prevent pollutants from evaporating into the air.
- By not idling your vehicle, you’ll conserve fuel and help reduce emission pollutants.
- Don’t drive aggressively—accelerating quickly and braking hard increase emissions and can lower your gas mileage by up to 33%.
During August, Clean Air Partners will host a series of educational outreach events across the region as part of its Ozone Action Month efforts. Clean Air Partners also provides educators free online curriculum resources with activities that teach students about air pollution issues and solutions. Find them at https://www.ontheair.cleanairpartners.net.
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Clean Air Partners is a public-private partnership educating the greater metropolitan Baltimore-Washington region about health risks associated with poor air quality and the impacts everyday actions have on the environment. Since 1997, Clean Air Partners has been dedicated to empowering individuals and organizations to take simple actions to reduce air pollution, protect public health, and improve air quality.