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Air Quality Awareness Week, May 3-7

Monday, April 28: Air Quality Index (AQI) - A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health

Did You Know? The Air Quality Index provides a simple indicator for the air quality in your area. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. Ground-level ozone or smog and fine particulate matter are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in New Jersey. Ozone (O3), a component of smog and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are linked to many adverse health impacts, including asthma attacks, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. The AQI is updated daily.

Action:  On days of unhealthy air quality (an orange or red day),

  • Limit outdoor activities, which is especially important for sensitive individuals, including older adults, children, people with lung diseases, including asthma)
  • Avoid over exertion
  • Delay mowing your lawn until air quality is healthy again
  • Refuel your vehicle at night time and stop at the click
  • Carpool or use public transportation

How? Check the AQI. Visit or

Remember The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution.

Resources to help Your Air Quality IQ: For detailed information on New Jersey’s air quality, visit To receive local air quality forecasts via email or cell phone, sign up at For more information on the AQI, visit To compare air quality between counties for vacation or travels, visit

Tuesday, April 29: Vehicles are The Largest Contributors to Smog (Ozone) and Soot

Did You Know? Vehicles, cars, trucks, non-road vehicles continue to be the largest contributors to smog and soot in New Jersey. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles (also called soot) can lodge deeply into the lungs, and are linked with a number of adverse effects on the respiratory system, such as reduction in lung function, increased respiratory symptoms, respiratory-related emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and possibly death. Children, the elderly, people with lung disease such as asthma, and people who work or exercise outside are at risk for these adverse effects.

 Action: What you drive and how much you drive make a big difference   

  • Drive Less. Bike, walk, carpool, use public transportation, combine trips, telecommute, and/or take the route with the least number of miles
  • Eliminate 10 trips/week by letting your child ride the school bus instead of driving them
  • Carpool children to school events and sports activities, and explain how they are helping clean the air
  • Create Walking School Buses where practical (
  • Help create bicycle and pedestrian trails with funding from the Safe Routes to School and     Transportation Alternatives Programs (
  • Drive Clean. Electric plug-in vehicles, which are Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), emit no smog- forming emissions when you drive them, and there are more than 200 public plug-in locations in the State. You can also purchase a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV), or a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) to minimize your contributions to smog
  • Maintain Your Car Properly. Inflate tires properly, limit idling, maintain your vehicle, fit gas cap properly, avoid rapid acceleration, and obey speed limits

NJ Rules and Program(s) to Reduce Your Exposure:  N.J.A.C. 7:27-19 “Control and Prohibition of Air Pollution from Oxides of Nitrogen”, N.J.A.C. 7:27-15 “Control and Prohibition of Air Pollution from Gasoline-Fueled Motor Vehicles”, N.J.A.C. 7:27-32 “Diesel Retrofit Program”N.J.A.C. 7:27-14 “Control and Prohibition of Air Pollution from Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicles (Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program),” N.J.S.A. 26:2C-8 “Mandatory Program Statute.” N.J.A.C. 7:27:29 “Low Emission Vehicle Program.”

Wednesday, April 30: Ozone (O3) – Take Action to Reduce Soot


Did You Know? Diesel exhaust contains more than 40 known and probable carcinogens, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and is commonly referred to as sootEvery year, hundreds of New Jerseyans die prematurely or suffer asthma attacks or other debilitating respiratory illnesses from harmful diesel soot.  Pursuant to a New Jersey law, thousands of school buses, garbage trucks, and transit buses have been retrofit with particulate emission control devices. In addition, some construction equipment used on projects throughout the State are being retrofit with particulate control devices to minimize health impacts from the projects.


  • Spread the word about the need for soot reduction by telling people not to idle unnecessarily. Do not idle any motor vehicle, especially diesel engine
  • Encourage your township to implement diesel reduction measures, such as increased idling enforcement, installation of particle filters, and purchase of new, cleaner diesel vehicles anequipment
  • Ask your township to consider requiring that equipment used in local construction contracts be retrofitted or the newest model year, which could earn LEED credit from the Green Building Council (see
  • Ask your township whether their diesel vehicles have been inspected annually as required.

NJ Rules and Programs to Reduce Your Exposure: N.J.A.C. 7:27-32 “Diesel Retrofit Program”N.J.A.C. 7:27-14 “Control and Prohibition of Air Pollution from Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicles (Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program),”  N.J.S.A. 26:2C-8 “Mandatory Program Statute,” N.J.A.C. 7:27:29 “Low Emission Vehicle Program.”

Thursday, May 1: Ozone: Good Up High, Bad Nearby

Did You Know? Ozone is a gas that occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground-level. Ozone can be “good” or “bad” for your health and the environment depending on its location in the atmosphere. The stratosphere or “good” ozone layer is high in the sky, and protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.The troposphere is closest to the earth’s surface. Here, ground-level or “bad” ozone (also called smog) is an air pollutant that is harmful to breathe. It damages crops, trees and other vegetation.
“Bad” ozone (smog) is formed by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from motor vehicle exhaust, industrial facilities and electric utilities, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds. Breathing “bad” ozone can trigger health problems, such as chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.

 Action:  Take these actions to reduce the effects of “bad” ozone (smog):

  • Check the Air Quality Index (AQI) for your local air quality. If the air is unhealthy, limit physical exertion outdoors and change the time of day of strenuous outdoor activity to early morning or late evening
  • Help your local electric utilities reduce ozone air pollution by conserving energy at home and the office
  • Shut off lights when leaving a room
  • Participate in your local utilities’ energy conservation programs
  • Reduce air pollution from cars, trucks, gas-powered lawn and garden equipment, boats, and other engines by keeping equipment properly tuned and maintained
  • During the summer, fill your gas tank during the cooler evening hours and be careful not to spill  gasoline
  • Reduce driving. Carpool, use public transportation, walk, or bicycle to reduce ozone pollution,   especially on hot summer days
  • Use household and garden chemicals wisely
  • Use paints and solvents with little or no volatile organic compounds. Be sure to read labels for  proper use and disposal.

 NJ Rules and Program(s) to Reduce Your Exposure: New Jersey’s Air Quality;, N.J.A.C. 7:27-19 “Control and Prohibition of Air Pollution from Oxides of Nitrogen”, N.J.A.C. 7:27-24, “Prevention of Air Pollution from Consumer Products”.

Friday, May 2: Idling Vehicles Waste Fuel and Cause Unnecessary Air Pollution

Did You Know? Idling vehicles waste fuel and cause unnecessary harmful emissions.  When you idle your vehicle, you, as well as the people around you, are breathing in harmful by-products of combustion.  Vehicles that idle for only 10 minutes per day waste more than 29 gallons of fuel and around $100 each year.  So reduce your idling time whenever you can. Do not idle to heat or cool the interior of the vehicle. Walk short distances instead of taking the car. Park and go into the fast food restaurant or bank instead of using the drive-thru.
Remember, an idling vehicle gets 0 miles per gallon.

Myth: Idling for a long time helps the engine warm up.  FALSE

Fact: A car needs less than 30 seconds of idle time, even during cold weather, before it is ready to go. 

Myth: Idling for a few minutes is more fuel efficient, better for the engine, and saves the starter, instead of turning the engine on and off.  FALSE

Fact: Only 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning the engine on and off.  Excessive idling causes the car to run inefficiently, leading to an increase in vehicle maintenance and a decrease in engine life.

Myth: Idling your car for a while is the best way to cool down/warm up the interior.  FALSE

Fact: The best way to cool or heat the inside of your car is to operate it at its peak performance              parameter, which is while driving, and not while idling.  It can take more than twice as long to change the temperature by idling instead of driving, and you are polluting your immediate area.

 Visit for more information

Action: Improve your air, and everyone else’s, when you’re behind the wheel. Do not let your car idle. It will save you fuel and money, as well as benefit your health.

NJ Rules and Program(s) to Reduce Your Exposure: N.J.A.C. 7:27-15 “Control and Prohibition of Air Pollution from Gasoline-Fueled Motor Vehicles”. N.J.A.C. 7:27:29 “Low Emission Vehicle Program.”



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