FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2020
Lawrence Hajna, DEP (609) 292-2994
Caryn Shinske, DEP (609) 984-1795
(20/P019) TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe is marking Air Quality Awareness Week by affirming the state’s commitment to cleaner air and addressing climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. She also asked residents to be mindful of steps they can take to help make our air healthier, at the same time helping to fight global warming.
“Improving air quality and reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases are public health and environmental priorities of the Murphy Administration,” Commissioner McCabe said. “Like so many environmental protection efforts, improving New Jersey’s air quality and investing in technologies that reduce pollution and greenhouse gases are important parts of the state’s economic development. This is why the state is moving forward aggressively on a number of air-quality fronts, such as rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and accelerating the electrification of the transportation sector. Air Quality Awareness Week is also a great time for residents to make changes that can help make our air healthier.”
National Air Quality Awareness Week runs through Friday and coincides with the start of the ground-level ozone season. Ground-level ozone, or smog, is a respiratory irritant formed by the interaction of certain pollutants, hot weather and sunshine. Exhaust from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles is the single biggest source of the pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog. These vehicles are also the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
A strong respiratory irritant, smog can bring on asthma attacks and adversely affect the health of sensitive individuals, including those with respiratory and heart illnesses, older people and children. Ground-level ozone has been linked to cardiovascular disease and premature death.
The DEP maintains a color-coded health advisory system (see accompanying graphic) that correspond to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) for communicating air quality conditions. Conditions are updated daily at www.nj.gov/dep/
Through information on the website, the public, especially most at-risk populations, can make informed choices about when to modify their outdoor activities to reduce their exposure to unhealthy air quality and avoid a potential health risk.
New Jersey is a national leader in improving air quality and was one of the first states to adopt an air pollution control law with the passage in 1954 of the New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act. This law established the framework for the state’s air pollution standards and goals.
Tremendous progress has been made since that time and, under Governor Murphy, New Jersey continues to affirm its leadership on air quality initiatives by rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, a multi-state and market-based effort to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, and by developing innovative programs to accelerate the electrification of the state’s transportation sector.
Among recent significant clean air actions taken by the Administration are:
Reducing air pollution can be achieved by everyone through simple and smart choices such as:
Each day of Air Quality Awareness Week has a special theme designed to help residents better understand air quality issues and take action. For more tips and information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/aqaweek/
Residents may sign up for air quality information and alerts through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroFlash system at www.enviroflash.info