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Be Air Aware… Know Your Local Air Quality. 
Monday, April 30: Ozone – AirNow – 20th Anniversary

Did You Know? This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of AirNow, the United
States Environmental Protection Agency’s website that provides current and forecasted air quality
for the entire country. New Jersey sends air quality data to AirNow on an hourly basis,
including ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant known to cause a number
of health effects and negatively impact air quality and the environment. It is the most
persistent criteria pollutant problem in New Jersey. Ozone is formed when oxides of nitrogen
(NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight.  Ozone can irritate
the lungs. Those with lung-related deficiencies should take extra precautions on bad ozone days.

Actions: Take these actions to reduce your exposure to ground-level ozone and improve air quality:

  • Get the daily air quality forecast. Sign up for EnviroFlash, (, a free online alert system, that delivers air quality information straight to your email inbox or
    cell phone. 
  • Purchase the most energy-efficient vehicle that meets your family’s needs.
  • Consider having an “ozone” date, similar to a “rain” date, for large scale outdoor events.
  • Limit outdoor activities, especially for sensitive individuals, such as older adults, children and people with lung diseases, including asthma and emphysema.
  • Delay mowing your lawn until the air quality is healthy again.
  • Be smart at the fuel pump. Refuel your vehicle at night to reduce evaporation of gasoline and stop refueling your car when the nozzle clicks off.
  • Choose a cleaner commute by carpooling or using public transportation.
  • Turn off that engine! Do not idle vehicles.

New Jersey is a national leader in controlling our sources of air pollution and the results
show improved air quality. As shown in the chart below, ozone levels have decreased steadily in
the past twenty years and the State of New Jersey has seen continued improvement in our air

For more information, visit

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Tuesday, May 1: Ozone/Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) - Asthma - May 1st is World Asthma Day

Did You Know? Asthma is a medical condition that makes it difficult for people to breathe.  In New Jersey, over 600,000 adults (9%) and 167,000 (8.7%) children currently have asthma. Asthma
affects all races, ages and genders. Common asthma triggers include dust mites, pollen,
secondhand smoke, mold, air pollution and smoke, strenuous exercise, stress, pets and
cockroaches.  Even though asthma has no cure, you can reduce the risk of severe complications, hospitalizations and death by properly taking prescribed medication and knowing your triggers.  When you know your triggers, you can take action to avoid them and prevent asthma attacks. 

One thing you can do to reduce your exposure to poor air quality is monitoring the local air quality forecast. Protect yourself and family members with asthma, by taking the following actions:

  • Receive the daily air quality forecast by signing up for EnviroFlash, (, a free online alert system that delivers air quality information to
    your cell phone or e-mail address. 
  • Check the Air Quality Index (AQI) for your community’s air quality. This enables you to avoid overexertion on bad air days.  If the air is unhealthy, limit physical exertion
    outdoors and change the time of day for strenuous outdoor activity to early morning or
    late evening.
  • Limit outdoor activities when air quality is poor, especially for sensitive individuals such as older adults, children and people with lung diseases, including asthma and emphysema.
  • Delay mowing your lawn until air quality is healthy.
  • Refuel your vehicle at night and stop refueling your car when the nozzle clicks off.
  • Carpool or use public transportation.
  • Do not idle vehicles.

For more information, visit

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Wednesday, May 2: Transportation, Electric Vehicles and Air Quality

Did You Know? In New Jersey, emissions from cars and light trucks account for about 30% of the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that cause ground-level ozone or “smog”.  In addition, more than 40% of NJ’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, mostly from on-road gasoline vehicles.  In fact, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. 
Electric vehicles (EVs) are a vital part of the future of clean transportation and they are on the road now! With more than 30 models from over a dozen automakers, more than 765,000 Americans have made the switch to electric cars. As of December 2017, there were 15,685 electric vehicles registered in New Jersey.  In the last five years, EV sales in NJ have seen an eight-fold increase.

Most EV owners charge up at home.  Once on the road, NJ’s robust and growing network of DC Fast Charging Stations ensure that “range anxiety” will not be an issue for Garden State EV drivers.
Roughly 95% of the state is within 25 miles of a DC Fast Charger, which can provide 60-80 miles of drivable range in 20 minutes of charging. 

Test Drive the Future to Experience EVs! Consider an electric vehicle when it’s time for your next vehicle purchase. The DEP’s Drive Green New Jersey website can help you decide which EV is right for you, explore charging options, learn about state and federal incentives,
and locate charging stations.

Additional Resources:

Thursday, May 3: Citizen Science / Air Quality Sensors

Did You Know? The monitoring of pollutants in the air we breathe is vital to protect our health and the environment. Because of advanced technologies, air monitors have become more affordable and more portable. These advances are leading to greater use of low-cost air
sensors by citizens to monitor hotspots, find sources of pollution, and collect information in
areas not covered by NJDEP’s air monitoring network. Currently, data obtained from these low cost sensors cannot be used for comparison to health standards, or for making air quality decisions. However, with the appropriate oversight, this data could supplement NJDEP’s
existing network and help identify areas of concern. NJDEP has developed a Low-Cost Air
Quality Sensor Action Plan to help those who have concerns about air pollution in their communities. Visit for more information.  NJDEP is in the process of creating a Citizen Air Monitoring website to help communities measure local air quality.

Take control of concerns regarding the air quality in your neighborhood.

An air sensor/citizen science resource currently available is the Student Air Monitoring
Project (Aethalometer Loan Program). For more information, visit

Air Quality Sensors

Students Collecting Air Quality Data

Students Analyzing Air Quality Data


For more information, visit

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Friday, May 4: Greenhouse Gases & Regional Haze/Visibility – Parks/Forests

Did You Know? Haze results from air pollutants, such as fine particles that absorb and scatter sunlight.  Haze is caused by air pollution from industry and motor vehicles.  However, some haze can occur naturally due to dust, fog, and wildfire smoke.  Regional haze is not caused by the air pollution from any one specific source, but is caused by many air pollution sources located over a wide area.  Smog, which also affects visibility, can act like a heavy haze over our cities.  Haze not only reduces enjoyment of our parks, forests, and natural places, but can negatively impact our health.  The Federal Clean Air Act set a national goal to help restore visibility to natural conditions in many of the national parks, wilderness areas and memorial parks in the United States.  New Jersey is home to one of these areas, the Brigantine Wilderness Area in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

Did You Know? Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases (GHGs) and
include carbon dioxide (CO2). GHG emissions cause the phenomenon known as climate change or
global warming. When GHGs are emitted into the atmosphere they trap heat from the sun, rather
than letting this heat radiate back into space. As a result, our planet gets warmer, disrupting our
planet’s stability and changing how our climate works. Climate change impacts air quality and
human health. Ozone pollution increases as temperature increases. Climate change also brings
favorable conditions for allergy-inducing weeds, in addition to providing more opportunities for pest
and disease vectors to thrive (e.g., West Nile virus). Through the consumption of natural
resources (particularly energy), household energy consumption contributes to more than 60% of
global GHG emissions. New Jersey released 109 million metric tons of gross GHG emissions in
2015 which is already below the State’s commitment to bring these emissions to 1990 levels by
year 2020. However, we still face the greater challenge of meeting the 80% reduction below the
2006 level by year 2050, which is the goal set by the State’s Global Warming Response Act.

Charts below show New Jersey’s GHG emissions by sector in 2015 as well as the overall trend since


Take action! Help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address climate change, and reduce regional haze.

  • Have a home energy audit conducted by your local utility company.
  • Ensure your heating system is operating at its maximum efficiency.
  • Monitor your electricity bill and take one step to reduce it each month.
  • Drive less (walk more, bicycle, carpool to work or school, take public transportation).
  • Visit for more information on clean energy and sustainability.
  • Plant trees and support programs that help to maintain a healthy tree canopy. Trees sequester carbon and well-placed trees can reduce energy costs by shading your house in the summer and blocking wind in the winter. Purchase the Treasure Our Trees license plates (tax deductible) at
  • If you own 5 acres or more of woodland – start stewarding!
  • Take walks in a forest or other natural areas to increase your physical/mental wellbeing. 
  • Support Green Infrastructure Projects in your town. Trees as part of green infrastructure projects also help to address air pollution, visibility, and climatic challenges.

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