We get upset with companies that produce air pollutants, and with good reason. During the inversion seasons in the winter, our air quality often ranks below Los Angeles. But when it comes to sheer volume of particulate matter in the air, we might be ignoring the biggest contributors–ourselves.
Mobile, on road, sources like cars, busses, trucks, etc. emit more volume of pollutants than any other source. So the bad news is, we’re to blame for a lot of our air quality problems. The good news is, it is within our power to do something about it–today! Here’s a list of things you can do to help. I’ve added some WWII propaganda posters to get you in the “we’re all in this together” spirit.
You may not think that your garage is a big source of pollution, but hear me out. Your car engine produces drastically more air pollutants until it warms up. A Utah Foundation study estimates that “at least one quarter and possibly over one half of winter vehicle pollution results from cold starts.” So clean out your garage, get your cars inside, and keep them a little warmer so they pollute less. Besides, no one likes scraping ice off a windshield every morning.
2. Don’t Use a Wood-Burning Fireplace
The governor reported that burning one log for one hour produces the same amount of emissions as driving a car all the way from Salt Lake to St. George . . . and back! So consider making the switch to a better fireplace. I hear natural gas can be just as romantic. After all, what girl can resist a guy who is environmentally conscious?
3. Don’t Idle & Avoid Rush Hour.
The legislature is looking to expand road projects as a possible way to address pollution. It seems counter-intuitive, but adding lanes might help us cut back on pollution because the less time we spend in traffic, the less emissions end up in our air. Until then, avoiding rush hour, even just during the inversion conditions, will help reduce smog. An efficient commute is a green commute.
Moreover, if you idle your car, not only does it not warm the car as efficiently as driving, but it needlessly adds to the smog. A good rule of thumb is if you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, turning the car off is more cost effective and emissions efficient.
Better yet, do you even need to go in at all? If you can work from home on a day where there are inversion conditions, you’ve done your little bit to keep the smog at bay.
If you have to go in to work, at least cut down on the number of cars on the road by sharing a ride. It takes a little planning, but even if you only do it while the weatherman says there’s an inversion, you’ll have reduced the smog for everyone. So don’t ride with Hitler. You could also consider taking mass transit.
Want more? Check out http://www.cleartheairutah.org