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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2011

Contact: Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION PROMOTES AIR QUALITY AWARENESS
TO IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH IN NEW JERSEY

(11/P61) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today marked the beginning of Air Quality Awareness Week in New Jersey, from May 2-6, by urging New Jersey residents to make simple choices in their everyday lives that can help improve air quality for everyone.

Commissioner Martin noted that improving air quality statewide is a continuing priority for the Christie Administration, which has approved several important measures to battle air pollution across the state in an effort to improve public health and welfare in New Jersey. But individual efforts also play a significant part in dealing with this issue, said Commissioner Martin.

In a proclamation issued today declaring this Air Quality Awareness week 2011, Governor Christie noted that New Jersey is a leader in controlling air pollution, and that public awareness is an important part of the effort to reduce air pollution.

"This is a great opportunity to review how our lifestyle choices can affect air quality," Commissioner Martin said. "Just by making simple choices to your everyday routine, such as maintaining your car, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, burning only dry and well-seasoned wood, and car-pooling or reducing automobile trips, you can reduce air pollution and lessen your impact on the environment.''

Some tips on reducing air pollutants include:

  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned hardwood, and avoid wood burning on bad air days.
  • Clean and paint your house with products that have low volatile organic compound (VOC) content or none at all.
  • Before you paint, or do other activities that cause air pollution, check your local forecast using the Air Quality Index (AQI) at http://www.njaqinow.net/Default.htm. If it is an orange or red day, avoid using products containing VOCs. These are usually uncomfortably hot days, so it's a good excuse not to paint or mow the lawn.
  • Keep your vehicle maintenance up-to-date.
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room. Turn off the air condition when you leave the house. It not only reduces pollution but saves you money.
  • Buy clothing that doesn't require dry cleaning.
  • Obey state law by not idling your vehicle for more than three minutes and encourage your local government enforce the law as well as implement diesel reduction measures. For more information, visit http://www.stopthesoot.org.

The Christie Administration has been working hard to improve New Jersey's air quality, including fighting to reduce emissions of pollutions from coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania that create pollution that blows into New Jersey.

Last week, Commissioner Martin appeared during a public hearing spurred by a DEP petition, testifying in support of a federal proposal to reduce sulfur dioxide and other harmful pollutants for the GenOn Energy coal-fired power plant in Portland, Pa.

The state is also battling out-of-state air pollution in two ongoing federal court cases dealing with power plants in western Pennsylvania that pour out huge volumes of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

In addition, Governor Christie last week issued an Executive Order to initiate a pilot project to reduce emissions from non-road diesel construction equipment to improve air quality, especially in urban areas.

The State is also a leader in adopting new rules requiring significant reductions in sulfur content for home heating oil and other types of fuel oil. The DEP has also developed rules designed to reduce the use of harmful chemicals by dry-cleaners, including proving dry cleaner operators with financial assistance to use greener technologies.

New Jersey's air quality has improved greatly over the years as a result of laws regulating industrial emissions, better pollution controls on cars and trucks, and regional efforts to control pollution. But there is still more work to do, and Air Quality Awareness Week is timed to the beginning of the ozone season, which coincides with the onset of warmer weather.

New Jersey continues to have relatively high levels of ozone, particles, and air toxics, because of its population density. Cars, trucks, consumer products are the major sources of these pollutants.

Ozone and fine particulate matter have been linked to many adverse health impacts, including asthma attacks, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities (motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and certain industrial processes.

Ground-level ozone is a measurement of summer smog. It forms in unhealthful concentrations when motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents react with sunlight and hot weather, forming a gas composed of three oxygen atoms.

Ozone in the upper atmosphere helps protect the Earth from harmful rays from the sun. At ground level, however, it is a respiratory irritant that can cause chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It can reduce lung function and even scar lung tissue.

Commissioner Martin urges residents, especially those with health problems, to follow the DEP's Air Monitoring Alert System. This system uses color codes to help residents plan their daily activities around current air quality conditions. Conditions are updated daily on the DEP's Web site, www.nj.gov/dep/. Overexertion during bad air days can be harmful to your health. There were 39 orange days (unhealthy for sensitive groups including children, older adults, and people with lung disease) and red days (unhealthy for everyone) in 2010.

Residents may also subscribe to EnviroFlash, an online alert system that delivers critical air quality information right to your e-mail in-box. You can also follow air quality forecasts on Twitter and through RSS feeds through the federal Environmental Protection Agency's EnviroFlash system. Visit www.enviroflash.info.

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