Keeping Health Impacts of Air Pollution Top of Mind This Summer

Years of scientific research have established that ozone and particle pollution are a threat to human health at every stage of life. Some groups of people, however, are more at risk of illness and death than others because they are more likely to be exposed, are more vulnerable to health harm, or often both.

According to the “State of the Air” report again this year, the health burden of air pollution is not evenly shared. Research has shown that people of color are more likely to be exposed to air pollution and suffer harm to their health from breathing polluted air. Over the years, decision-makers have found it easier to place sources of pollution, such as power plants, industrial facilities, landfills and highways, in economically disadvantaged communities of color than in more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods. The resulting disproportionate exposure to polluted air has contributed to high rates of emergency department visits for asthma and other lung diseases.

Report findings revealed that, although people of color make up 41.6% of the overall U.S. population, they are 52% of the people living in a county with at least one failing grade for ozone and/or particle pollution. More than 27.5 million people of color live in counties that received failing grades on all three measures, including some 16.8 million Hispanic or Latino people. There’s also evidence that people living in poverty are more likely to live near sources of pollution since they have fewer resources to relocate than those with more financial security, as well as having less access to quality and affordable health care to provide relief to them when they get sick. In the U.S. alone, 16 million people with incomes meeting the federal poverty definition live in counties that received an “F” grade for at least one pollutant, and over 5.4 million people in poverty live in counties that failed all three measures. Children, older adults and people living with underlying health conditions may also be physically more susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution than others.

To help keep these individuals and other area residents informed about ozone pollution levels in the region and how those levels can affect their health, the Clean Air Partnership releases color-coded, daily air quality forecasts all summer long to let area residents know what the next day’s air quality is forecast to be and if they should alter their outdoor activities to minimize exposure to polluted air. This will be especially important later this month and next with a likely uptick of unhealthy air quality days.

For more a host of additional tips to beat the summer heat to help clear the air and protect human health, visit, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook, or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: Saint Louis Science Center

As one of few free, nonprofit science museums in the country that serves hundreds of thousands of people each year – both within the museum and out in the community – the Saint Louis Science Center recognizes the need to preserve a livable planet. With a campus that features hundreds of interactive experiences in various galleries, the iconic James S. McDonnell Planetarium, and a five-story OMNIMAX® Theater, the Science Center remains committed to its mission of working to inspire everyone to be curious and engaged in science. Its unique responsibility to model sustainability best practices and empower guests and community members to make sustainable choices helped earn them recognition in the 2023 St. Louis Green Business Challenge at the Leader Level. This month, the Clean Air Partnership is pleased to highlight some of those green initiatives.

“The Saint Louis Green Business Challenge provides an operational framework for us as we continue to increase our efforts to be a more sustainable institution,” said Maddie Earnest, current Associate Director of Galleries and former GROW and Life Science Manager at the Saint Louis Science Center. “We are grateful for the relationships we’ve built with other organizations and the ideas we’ve garnered from participating in the Challenge. This program is wonderful for our region.”

During the 2023 Challenge, the Science Center installed more LED lighting in its main kitchen and three different staff areas, as well as installed PaperCut software to better monitor printing usage and encourage less staff printing. To further cut down on waste, the organization hosted its first reduced waste event at the October First Fridays. Garnering over 2,500 attendees, the Science Center diverted roughly 128 gallons of food waste and composite dishware from the landfill to help improve air quality, using the event to set guidelines for lowering its waste accumulation at future large-scale events.

To help cut down on costs and enhance energy efficiency, the Science Center also replaced its original 30-year-old roof and increased the amount of insulation to prevent heat from escaping during cold seasons and keep warm air from entering during hot seasons.

Other impressive accomplishments included a Sustainabili-Chili Cook-Off held for staff members, where the Science Center’s Sustainable Futures Team provided information about decreasing one’s carbon footprint through food choices. Some 50+ staff members in attendance voted for the most sustainable chili, in addition to voting on best flavor and creativity. Additionally, a staff clean-up day helped remove invasive honeysuckle around a neighboring school and clear up plants in other surrounding areas.

To learn more about the Saint Louis Science Center’s sustainability efforts and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit For more on the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo has been dedicated to animal and habitat conservation since its establishment in 1910, providing first-rate care to more than 16,000 animals while also supporting wildlife around the world. As a repeat participant in the 2023 St. Louis Green Business Challenge, the Zoo captured the Clean Air Partnership’s attention for its ongoing commitment to making its campus and operations sustainable through outstanding efforts to reduce its environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources.

“Saint Louis Zoo was proud to participate again in the Challenge,” said Wanda Kolo, Director of Sustainable Operations and Construction Management at Saint Louis Zoo. “We value the programming and educational resources curated by the St. Louis Green Business Challenge team. Webinars, in-person events, and peer information sharing is top notch, keeping the Zoo team engaged and up to speed on the great work happening in the region. We are grateful to have such an incredible peer-learning community!”

Over the course of the 2023 Challenge, the Zoo elected to report on its Champion Innovation Project, the debut of its new electric locomotive that was added to the Emerson Zooline Railroad fleet last March. The new electric locomotive brings a positive, long-term environmental impact to the Zoo with lower greenhouse gas emissions and more sustainable resources. Additionally, the new locomotive reduces maintenance requirements and replacement parts as well as costs of operations, like fueling. It also does not emit fumes and reduces noise in the park, improving guests’ overall experience.

The electric train is named after Mary Meachum, an abolitionist in St. Louis who was instrumental in educating Black people, having established a school for free and enslaved Black children and played a critical role in the Underground Railroad. The “Mary Meachum” is the Zoo’s first train named after a woman and can be identified by the green locomotive at the front of the train. The locomotive also features the number 50 on the side, plus a new but recognizable train whistle.

The Zooline Railroad has served more than 41 million people since it opened in 1963. The popular attraction now has a better and greener future thanks to the new electric locomotive, which has been a great source of pride for zoo staff, volunteers and the broader community. And it’s also a win for air quality!

For more information about Saint Louis Zoo and how your organization can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to the Challenge’s bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @gatewaycleanair.

Area Drivers Encouraged to “Dump the Pump” and Take Transit on June 20

Free Monthly Transit Pass Available for First-Time Transit Users

Transit riders can save more than $13,000 per year just by using public transit instead of driving. Over a 10-year period, that adds up to more than $100,000 in savings. Citizens for Modern Transit – in conjunction with Metro Transit and St. Clair County Transit District – is therefore encouraging drivers to “Dump the Pump” and give transit a try on National Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, June 20, 2024. Those new to public transit can get a free monthly transit pass while supplies last by registering at With transportation-related emissions being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, taking public transportation is also a great way to reduce harmful auto emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.

Street teams from partnering organizations will also be at the Grand MetroLink and MetroBus stops – as well as the Fairview Heights Transit Center – on June 20. These representatives will be handing out 100 Grand candy bars to thank transit riders for dumping the pump and to remind them of the many benefits of taking transit.

“With 38 MetroLink stations and 59 MetroBus routes, thousands are already taking transit to get where they need to go and through this campaign we are looking to increase new ridership,” commented Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “Those with personal vehicles can park at any of the 21 free, Park-Ride lots at MetroLink stations on both sides of the river to avoid traffic and save on gas and parking costs when heading to work, school, games and entertainment venues.”

The “Dump the Pump” campaign is part of the partnering organizations’ ongoing efforts to interact with riders, strengthen relationships and reinforce their collective commitment to a safe, comfortable, customer-focused transit experience. To learn more, visit

For more information on the link between sustainable transportation and air quality, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website at