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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2016

Contact: Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Bob Considine (609) 292-2994

 
 

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION PROCLAIMS AIR QUALITY AWARENESS WEEK TODAY THROUGH MAY 6
WEEK MARKS 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF STATEWIDE EFFORTS AND SUCCESSES TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY

(16/31) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is marking the 10th anniversary of Air Quality Awareness Week in New Jersey this week by highlighting the successes that have improved New Jersey’s air quality, while reminding residents of basic steps they can take to also improve the air in their communities.

photo-cloudsGovernor Christie has proclaimed this week, from May 2-6, as Air Quality Awareness Week in New Jersey, a time to promote education and encourage changes in daily routines to improve air quality.

These changes include reducing automobile trips, avoiding vehicle idling, keeping vehicle’s maintenance up-to-date, using environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) before going outdoors.

“Under the Christie Administration, New Jersey has remained a national leader in improving air quality, which is so important to protecting public health,” Commissioner Bob Martin said. “This administration has taken aggressive stands to battle air pollution that blows into New Jersey from out of state, and now ranks fourth among the states in production of clean solar energy. That good work will continue, in order to improve the quality of life and air across our state.”

"Air Quality Awareness Week is important in that it provides the DEP additional opportunity to educate the public on ways they can make a difference in our air quality," said John Giordano, Assistant Commissioner for Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability. "Individual steps, though small in nature, can collectively add up to considerable and sustained improvements to health."

New Jersey’s air quality has improved greatly in recent years as a result of better pollution controls on cars, trucks and power plants. In particular, the Administration has targeted out-of-state polluters whose downwind emissions cross into New Jersey. The U.S. Energy Information Administration ranks New Jersey as the 46th-lowest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter in the nation. New Jersey is also ranked 47th lowest in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.

Additionally, New Jersey’s environmental stewardship has resulted in the state meeting national standards set by the EPA for fine particulate matter.

Air Quality Awareness Week is timed to the beginning of the ozone season, which begins as warmer weather approaches New Jersey. Ground-level ozone, also called smog, is a pollutant formed outdoors and is a problem for New Jersey and the northeastern United States.

A strong respiratory irritant, it can bring on asthma attacks and adversely affect the health of sensitive populations such as those with respiratory and heart illness, older adults, young children, and people who are active outdoors. Consequently, residents are encouraged to take steps to protect their health from the effects of ozone. 

There are numerous opportunities for people, municipalities and elected officials to improve air quality in their neighborhoods. Some tips for reducing air pollutants include:

  • Do not idle vehicles. Eliminating idling will save fuel and money, and benefit public health. Develop good driving habits. Combine automobile trips to reduce “cold starts.” Choose a cleaner commute by carpooling, using public transportation, biking or walking when possible.
  • If the check-engine light comes on, have the vehicle’s emission codes read to determine what type of maintenance may be needed. Ensure that vehicle fleets or personal vehicles are properly maintained and inspected at licensed inspection facilities when required. More information is available at www.njinspections.com/
  • When refueling vehicles, ask the gas attendant to stop when the nozzle clicks off, to prevent overfilling. Tighten gas caps securely. Refuel vehicles in the late afternoon or after dark to reduce evaporation of gasoline, a volatile organic compound capable of forming smog.
  • Maintain an energy-efficient vehicle. Keep vehicle tires properly inflated to increase gas mileage and reduce engine emissions.
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room. Reduce usage of heating and air conditioning units while away from home.
  • Before doing household work that causes air pollution, such as painting or mowing the lawn, check the local Air Quality Index (AQI) at www.njaqinow.net. If it is an orange or red-level day, postpone projects that use solvents or engines.
  • Clean and paint using products with low volatile organic compound (VOC) content or none at all. Water-based products are best.

In 2015, New Jersey launched a Clean Air NJ website to educate the public about ground-level ozone and what the public can do to reduce ozone-forming emissions. To learn more, visit www.cleanair.nj.gov

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for Air Quality Awareness Week, go to www.nj.gov/dep/aqaweek/

For DEP Air Monitoring and alerts, visit: www.njaqinow.net

To learn more about the DEP’s Department of Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability, follow the department on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NJDEP-Air-Quality-Energy-and-Sustainability-811744782277426/

Residents may also subscribe to EnviroFlash, an online EPA alert system that delivers air quality information to email inboxes or cell phones. AIRNow, a new EPA mobile application, also provides real-time location-specific air quality information at https://developer.epa.gov/airnow/

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Last Updated: May 2, 2016