What Can You Do?
- Be informed on local air quality and the air pollution reduction services available in your area:
- Subscribe to EnviroFlash at www.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm to receive information on your local air quality. These forecasts will help your community to take the necessary precautions when ozone is predicted to be unhealthy (e.g., high ozone days).
- Get commuting options from your applicable Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). To find out which TMA your area is affiliated with, go to www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/rideshare/tma.shtm.
- Don’t exercise mid-day on poor air-quality days.
- Move outdoor activities to a day with better air quality, or move to the early morning or late evening.
- Consider having an “ozone” date, similar to a “rain” date, for large scale outdoor events.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) come from the burning of gasoline, either in your vehicle or in your small engine equipment (e.g., lawnmowers, weedwhackers, etc.). In New Jersey, these sources of ozone precursors are the largest contributor to the State’s ozone problem. Follow these tips to reduce your contribution and make a difference in our air quality.
- Turn off that engine!
- Minimize idling of your vehicles and equipment, which wastes fuel. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning a vehicle’s engine off and on.
- Purchase and Maintain an energy efficient vehicle.
- Buy the most fuel efficiency vehicles that meets your needs. See www.fueleconomy.gov to find what works best for you.
- See http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.jsp
- Keep vehicle tires properly inflated to increase your gas mileage, thereby reducing the amount of smog-forming pollutants emitted from your engine.
- Keep vehicles and heavy equipment properly tuned to increase engine efficiency, thereby reducing emissions of smog-forming pollutants.
- If your vehicle’s check engine light comes on, it could mean that your vehicle’s emission controls are not working properly. Take your vehicle in for service and get it repaired if needed.
- Make sure to get vehicles inspected on schedule. For more information about NJ’s vehicle inspection program, go to www.njinspections.com.
- Be smart at the fuel pump.
- When refueling vehicles or getting gas for lawn equipment, ask your gas station attendant to stop at the click (when the nozzle clicks off) and don't overfill or drip fuel.
- Tighten gas caps securely.
- Refuel vehicles and equipment in the late afternoon or after dark to reduce evaporation of gasoline, a volatile organic compound capable of forming smog.
- Develop good driving habits.
- See http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.jsp
- Combine errands and trips in the vehicle to reduce "cold starts".
- Don’t speed. Wind resistance from increased speed burns more fuel, thereby increasing the amount of pollution that forms smog.
- Choose a cleaner commute — car pool, use public transportation, bike or walk when possible.Reschedule yard work activities:
- Minimize yard work that involves power equipment (mowing, edging, mulching, and trimming) on high ozone days, or reschedule that work to take place on good air quality days
Power plants are the second largest source of the ozone precursor Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) in NJ. Although New Jersey has some of the lowest emitting power plants in the country, the State’s energy comes from a pool that includes many states to the west and south of us that are not as clean. How can you affect power plant emissions, especially those outside of New Jersey? It’s simple – reduce your energy consumption. Here are a few tips on how you can use less energy, reducing the load on power plants, thereby reducing the amount of smog-forming pollutants they emit. (bonus – you’ll also save on your electric bill!)
- Raise your thermostat.
- Keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature in the summer, and use timed thermostats that increase the temperature even further when cooling isn’t needed.
- Adding a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
- Watch out for Energy Vampires
- Turn off your “vampire” electronic devices (e.g., those consumer electronic devices (televisions, computers, etc.) that continue to consume or suck energy even when turned off). These devices can account for as much as 10% of the energy used in a home, and the average American household has about 25 consumer electronic devices!
- Help Zap find the energy vampires in your household
- Consider if alternative energy options are right for you!
- Residential solar power is a popular option in New Jersey, with many households adding solar panels to the roofs to offset their energy costs,
- If a solar array won’t work for you, consider switching to an energy company that offers a portfolio that includes significant renewable power sources such as solar, geothermal and wind.
- Don’t heat your home with appliances and lighting
- On ozone alert day days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
- Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Only about 10% to 15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat.
- Keep that shower a little less steamy!
- Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.
- Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.
Did you know that many household paints and solvents contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that contribute to New Jersey’s ozone problem. Keep these tips in mind when using these materials in summer and you’ll be keeping New Jersey’s air clean.
- Use paints, solvents, and cleaning products with little or no volatile organic compounds, preferably water-based products.
- Avoid spray paints, most of which are solvent based. Very fine spray also can become airborne. Use paint brushes and rollers where possible.
- Plan major painting, stripping and refinishing projects for spring and fall to avoid summer heat and sun, which react with vapors to create ozone pollution. If you must use solvent-based products in the summer, limit their use to the evening and avoid high ozone days.
- Tightly cap all solvents (paints, gasoline, paint thinners, strippers, degreasers) and store in a cool place to avoid evaporation.