Shared from the 2/9/2020 The Denver Post eEdition
Take a deep breath – you can do this Small actions by residents can add up quickly to improve air quality By Sue McMillin Columnist for The Denver Post-extract
Here is what you can do.
• Refuel your vehicle during cooler evening hours rather than during the heat of the day to eliminate fumes that become ground-level ozone.
• Avoid using gas-powered tools such as lawnmowers in the heat of the day (it’s better for the grass as well as the air).
• Bundle vehicle trips together by planning your errands and routing for the fewest miles. Avoid a separate trip for an errand you can do on the way to or from work.
• Walk, bicycle, carpool or use public transportation whenever possible.
• Work from home if you can on high ozone alert days, just as you might on a snow day. Or add a weekly telecommute day if you can.
• Avoid wood-burning fires. Denver and many metro-area counties ban indoor burning on air quality alert days in winter; the city has prohibited wood-burning fireplaces in new construction. Denver also prohibits outdoor burning year-round, including the use of fire pits and chimineas. Other areas restrict outdoor burning on alert days. As enticing as a bonfire might be, it’s best to avoid them in the name of clean air.
• In households with two or more vehicles consider having at least one zero-emission automobile for in-town commuting and errands.
• Keep your vehicle properly maintained and never, ever mess with emission control devices. (This apparently is an issue despite being a violation of the federal Clean Air Act and laws in most states. Some people even alter their vehicles after an emissions inspection and then reinstall pollution control devices before the next inspection. Geez.)
• Get air quality alerts directly or follow the Colorado Department of Transportation on twitter.
Thomas and Putnam are optimistic that we can reach the EPA attainment goals and get off the bad air lists, despite the challenges. Some things necessary for change — political will, an engaged citizenry, and business and industry support (bad air lists are not good for business) – seem to be falling into place.
“We just need to get people to think differently about things they’re doing,” said Thomas. “We’re trying to make this a better place.
“We want to make sure the air is breathable for everybody.”
Putnam, who knows firsthand about the impacts of air pollution because he has asthma, said cleaner air is an imperative public health issue.
“Sometimes people think these big issues are beyond their control,” he said. “Maybe you can’t move closer to where you work but do what you can and make intentional decisions. They add up.”
It’s a matter of our health — and the health of our planet.