The arrival of a new year often brings opportunities to change a lifestyle, a business, or even an entire community. If you’re looking to make a change for the better in 2018, consider making conscious changes to your transportation habits, and you could positively impact the region’s air quality and health.
High concentrations of ground-level ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, and eye and throat irritation. Even in healthy adults, studies have shown that exposure to various levels of ozone pollution can cause decreased lung function. But, children, older adults and those who suffer from lung diseases like emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma are especially vulnerable to ozone pollution. When it comes to minimizing those health impacts, everyone has a role to play. Individuals can make lifestyle changes, and even municipalities and businesses can help improve air quality by changing their policies on and attitudes towards transportation.
As you make your resolutions for the New Year, here are some things you, personally, can do to help improve the air quality.
- Carpool, vanpool or ride the bus or MetroLink whenever possible.
- Avoid letting your vehicle idle. Turn off the engine when you’re waiting in your car.
- When the weather is nice, walk or bike for short trips and to and from lunch.
- If public transit doesn’t work for you, try ridesharing to and from work and take advantage of We Car if you need to run errands around town.
- Check your air filters and replace them at least every three months. Clean air filters can improve gas mileage by up to 10% compared to clogged filters.
If you run a business, the following tips can jump start your commitment to clean air in 2018:
- Help your employees to share the ride by signing up with resources such as RideFinders, which can help them to connect with carpool or vanpool partners, or help employees navigate public transportation by teaming up with Metro and Citizens for Modern Transit.
- Offer employee passes for public transportation, or convenient parking for those who choose to carpool.
- Provide bike racks and lockers for employees who bike or walk to work.
- Create a ‘No Idling’ policy in your parking lots and instead provide 15-minute pickup and drop-off parking spots near the entrance.
- Offer telecommuting and flex-time, allowing employees to work from home or come in at times that do not coincide with rush hour traffic.
- Conduct meetings by conference calls and video chats instead of traveling to meet in-person.
By committing to promoting practices that improve the air quality in your community, municipalities can have a huge impact too.
- Develop and implement a no-idling policy for fleet drivers and city employees, and encourage residents in busy pick-up and drop-off zones to avoid idling.
- Utilize biodiesel to fuel city trucks, and ensure the tires are properly inflated and air filters are clean.
- Provide dedicated carpool spaces at city buildings to encourage city employees to rideshare more often.
- Develop and implement a bike and walk master plan designed to encourage residents to walk or bike more to get around town instead of driving, and install bike racks around the city.
- Provide city landscaping crews with electric, propane or solar-powered lawn and gardening tools, instead of gas-powered ones.
For more great tips on how we can work together to achieve cleaner air in 2018, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips/, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. And have a happy and healthy New Year!