Pollution in the air – emissions from cars, mowers, paints, cleaning products, manufacturing facilities, power plants – is not always what it seems. Invisible gases and very tiny particles due to human activity can linger in the air, enter the lungs and even make their way to the heart, and harm human health.
The severity of dirty air days is measured using an Air Quality Index, or AQI. The AQI is a color-coded tool designed to inform the public about levels of health concern associated with local air quality conditions so that individuals, particularly those most sensitive to air pollution, can respond accordingly.
For additional information about why to care:
- Particularly for children, seniors, athletes, and people with respiratory, pulmonary, or cardiovascular conditions:
For additional information about what to do:
- Sign up for daily AirAlerts
- Try Teleworking
- Start a Work-Place Program
- Become a local Clean Air Partners Sponsor
- Share Clean Air Partners promotional materials and publications with others:
- Visit the District’s Village Green solar and wind-powered air monitoring station at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The station, an innovative park bench, was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a unique way to engage the public in measuring air quality and weather. It is located in the Kid’s Farm exhibit area of the Zoo.
- Modify your plan – Don’t exercise mid-day on poor air quality days; consider having an “ozone date” (similar to a “rain date”) for large-scale outdoor events; bundle your errands.
- Air Quality Educational Opportunities
- If you are a teacher, check out the Clean Air Partners Curriculum
- If you are a teacher or parent, consider implementing the Clean Air Partners Summer Camp Outreach Program
- Check out the Clean Air Partners Back-to-School Graphics [PDF] for physical education teachers, coaches, marching band instructors, and parents
- Enter the Clean Air Partners Annual Poster and Slogan Contest
- Request an AirBeam citizen science presentation at your school
- Do a local Science Fair project related to air quality
- Air Quality Transportation-Related Actions
The transportation sector is the largest source of emissions that contribute to air pollution in the District.
- Drive less – Instead of driving: share a ride, walk, bike, use public transit, or telework when possible.
- Develop good driving habits – Combine errands and trips to reduce avoid vehicle starts; don’t speed, since wind resistance from increased speed burns more fuel; avoid extended idling.
- Wait to refuel your car – During summer months, do so after 7 pm; avoid spilling gas and “topping off” the tank; replace the gas tank cap tightly.
- Maintain your vehicle – Replace oil and air filters regularly; keep tires properly inflated and aligned; avoid engines that smoke; get your vehicle inspected on schedule.
- Explore local Commuter Connections
- Learn about Eco-Driving
- Reduce Vehicle Idling
- Check out these Fuel Saving Tips for Drivers
- Get involved in the region’s transportation planning process
- If you are purchasing a vehicle, check out EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide or consider a SmartWay Certified Vehicle
- If you own a diesel fleet, consider engine replacements or retrofits to reduce diesel emissions
- If you are involved with the movement of goods or the freight transportation industry, become a SmartWay® Transport Partner or Affiliate
- Air Quality Home and Building Related Actions
In addition to being a significant source of air pollution, the burning of fossil fuels is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Plan yard work and chores – During smoggy days, avoid gas- or diesel-powered lawn equipment; wait to mow lawns; postpone the use of paints, solvents, varnishes, and cleaning products that produce fumes; avoid sprays; tightly cap all chemicals and store them in a cool place.
- Rethink play – Replace charcoal with a propane gas grill; reduce wood burning; avoid using outboard motors, off-road vehicles, or other gas- or diesel-powered recreational vehicles.
- Conserve energy – Turn off lights, appliances, and electronics when not in use; clean heating filters; set the air conditioner at a higher temperature; use timed thermostats; choose ENERGY STAR™ products.
- See the Guide to Heating Your Home [PDF]
- See the Green Guide to the Holidays [PDF]
- Learn about EnergySmart DC Programs
- Check out these Home Energy Saving Tips