Partners Launch “Go for the Gold. Be A Champion for Clean Air. Take Transit Everywhere.” Campaign as Summer Olympics Get Underway

Transportation-related emissions are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution. The Clean Air Partnership and Citizens for Modern Transit are therefore launching a “Go for the Gold. Be a Champion for Clean Air. Take Transit Everywhere.” campaign in conjunction with the 2024 Summer Olympics – as late July into August is traditionally known as the hottest stretch of summer and poses the greatest threat for poor air quality. This two-week-long effort will work to remind individuals to take MetroLink and MetroBus to get to school, work, sports and entertainment venues and everywhere else they need to go. Doing so will help reduce auto emissions and improve regional air quality conditions, while saving transit riders money on gasoline, parking fees and the maintenance costs associated with personal vehicle usage.

“The St. Louis region is no stranger to poor air quality conditions,” said Susannah Fuchs, Director of Clean Air for the American Lung Association in Missouri, which oversees the Clean Air Partnership. “There is a lot of work to be done to protect our local communities from the continued risks to public health resulting from elevated air pollution levels, particularly during the peak of summer when extreme weather conditions significantly impact daily air quality. It’s imperative that area residents stay informed about the quality of the air we breathe and continue to take voluntary steps to reduce emissions to help improve outcomes.”

Area residents can visit to complete a pledge form acknowledging their commitment to take transit between July 26 thru Aug. 11, in addition to their consent to receive color-coded, daily air quality forecasts via email stating if the forecast for the following day is a GREEN (good), YELLOW (moderate), ORANGE (unhealthy for sensitive groups) or RED (unhealthy for everyone) air quality day. The first 150 to do so will receive a “Going for the Gold, 2024 Clean Air Champion” vinyl sticker and a $5 Metro Transit Day Pass good for unlimited rides on MetroLink or MetroBus for an entire day. The site also provides detailed information about available modes of public transit provided throughout the bi-state area by Metro Transit and the St. Clair County Transit District – and links to associated schedules, pricing, programs, incentives and more.

“We know that auto emissions play a drastic role in what the air quality is on any given day,” added Kimberly Cella, Executive Director for Citizens for Modern Transit. “As the summer heats up and the potential for poor air quality days to be forecast increases, we want people to take action with alternate modes of transportation.”

Those who track their transit trips by responding to campaign text messages from July 26 to Aug. 11 will also get a free, patriotic “Public Transit” t-shirt mailed to them, while supplies last. Each time respondents track their transit trips, their name will be entered into a drawing to win one of 10, September monthly Metro Transit passes up for grabs – valued at $78 each.

Street teams from partnering organizations behind the “Be A Champion for Clean Air. Take Transit There.” campaign will also be at select MetroLink and MetroBus stops the morning of Thursday, July 25, 2024. These representatives will be handing out campaign-themed lanyards and card holders with an educational insert encouraging people to scan a QR code to commit to “Going for the Gold” by taking transit and signing up to receive the daily air quality forecasts.

To learn more about the region’s air quality, public transportation options and campaign efforts, visit

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

St. Louisans Encouraged to Take Action for Cleaner Air Based on Mixed “State of the Air” Results

The American Lung Association’s recently released “State of the Air” report finds that despite decades of progress cleaning up air pollution, 39% of people living in America – 131.2 million individuals – still live in places with failing grades for unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. This is 11.7 million more people breathing unhealthy air compared to the years covered by the 2023 report (2019-2021), which reinforces the need to protect our local communities from the continued risks to public health resulting from of a combination of factors, including extreme heat, drought, wildfire smoke and more.

For the eighth consecutive year, St. Louis avoided being ranked among the top 25 most ozone-polluted U.S. cities, coming in at number 30 on the list out of 228 metropolitan areas. The region ranked 33rd on the list for most polluted cities by annual particle pollution, which is back six spots from the previous year. The most current report findings have added to the evidence that a changing climate is making the job of cleaning up the air and protecting human health more difficult. High ozone days and spikes in particle pollution related to extreme heat, drought and wildfires are putting millions of people at risk and adding challenges to the work that states and cities are doing across the nation to clean up air pollution.

According to the 2024 report, exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone air pollution continues to make breathing difficult for more people across the country than any other single pollutant. For the three years covered in this year’s report (2020-2022), some 100.6 million people lived in the 125 counties in 26 states that earned an “F” grade for ozone, including St. Charles County in Missouri and Madison County in Illinois. This means that three of every 10 people – including 22.5 million infants and children, 15.5 million people age 65 or older and tens of millions in other groups at risk of health harm – are exposed to high levels of ozone on enough days to earn the air they breathe a failing grade.

While ozone air pollution remains a serious threat to public health, one trend continuing in a positive direction for the fourth consecutive report is the number of people living in counties with a failing grade for ozone that actually declined, this year by 2.4 million people. The long-term trend of improvement can be attributed to controls placed on emissions that have increasingly resulted in the replacement of more polluting engines, fuels and industrial processes nationwide.

For more on ways to do your share for cleaner air this summer and to stay alert about regional ozone pollution levels, sign up to receive the daily air quality forecasts at, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook, or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @gatewaycleanair.

To access the full 2024 “State of the Air” report, visit

Spotlight On: StraightUp Solar

StraightUp Solar is a ­­­Missouri and Illinois-based solar installation company that offers a full range of services from design-to-build (engineering, procurement, construction and installation) for solar systems, battery storage, smart panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Since 2006, the company has installed more than 2,800 residential and commercial-scale solar projects for customers who have reaped the benefits of saving money and supporting a healthier environment that features more natural, eco-friendly energy use. These efforts helped StraightUp Solar earn the esteemed title of St. Louis Green Business Challenge Champion in 2023, as the company was able to demonstrate their commitment to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies.

“The St. Louis Green Business Challenge network, webinars and events inspire us to examine our business operations and implement new sustainable alternatives,” said Eric Schneider, Director of Business Development for StraightUp Solar. “We are honored to join likeminded companies dedicated to reducing our environmental footprint to improve our communities.”

During the 2023 Challenge, StraightUp Solar’s headquarters in Maryland Heights produced 153 megawatt hours of solar energy, offsetting 66 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and recycled 55,000 pounds of solar panels, microinverters and other solar energy equipment. Within its own offices, the company committed to using only green cleaning products, refillable pens and pencils and recycled content paper for all business operations, in addition to having supplied organic fruit and snacks in the employee lunchroom. Additionally, 10 solar-powered EV charging stations were made open to the public at company headquarters.

Other impressive accomplishments included the company maintaining Benefit Corporation (B Corp) certification, which is unique in the business world because that means they place people and planet above profit and commit to high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Consequently, the company has continued operating under a hybrid office model to reduce harmful automobile emissions from commuting, which greatly impacts air quality!

To reinforce its values of advocating for solar energy and educating the community about sustainable practices for a healthier future, StraightUp Solar provided hands-on solar training to K–12 educators in Southern Illinois and partnered with Employment Connections for a Solar 101 workforce training class. Last but not least, the company also sponsored earthday 365 Environmental Days of Justice, Forest ReLeaf Arbormeisters, ParkLands Foundation and Southern Illinois University Sustainability.

For more information about StraightUp Solar and how your company 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.

Spotlight On: ESCO Technologies

ESCO Technologies, headquartered in St. Louis, is a global provider of highly engineered products and solutions to diverse and growing end-markets that include the defense, aerospace, space, wireless, consumer electronics, healthcare, automotive, electric utility and renewable energy industries. The company consists of three technology-driven business segments – Aerospace & Defense, Utility Solutions Group and RF Test & Measurement. This month, the Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize ESCO Technologies for its responsibilities to mitigate environmental impact, protect its workers, improve the supply chain and enhance the communities they serve, all of which earned them recognition in the 2023 St. Louis Green Business Challenge at the Leader Level.

“Participating in the Challenge for the second year helped us find additional ways we can make ESCO and our employees more sustainable,” said Justin Prien, ESCO Technologies Director of Environmental Health and Safety. “We look forward to next year’s Challenge to help us further reduce our environmental footprint and benefit the communities where we operate.”

During the 2023 Challenge, ESCO Technologies participated in Operation Clean Stream at Castlewood State Park – one of the country’s most significant and longest-running river restoration projects – to encourage community engagement and conservation. To spark further engagement in sustainability efforts, the company gave all its employees native wildflowers, LED light bulbs and reusable cutlery sets for Earth Day and shared the many benefits of planting native plants, conserving energy with LED light bulbs and moving away from disposable cutlery. Additionally, ESCO Technologies created an internal SharePoint site for employees to access information on the company’s eco-conscious business practices and how to become more sustainable at both work and at home.

Other noteworthy accomplishments that helped earn them recognition in the Challenge include the implementation of a K-Cup recycling program that collected 79 pounds of used product, as well as newly installed water bottle filling stations that saved a total of 7,649 plastic water bottles. ESCO Technologies also published its 2022 Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) report and began reporting on hazardous waste generation as a part of the company’s environmental footprint metrics. The data showed reduced carbon intensity from 20.0 to 18.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) per million dollars of revenue, from 2021 to 2022. This unit of measurement is used to compare the environmental impact and global warming potential of different greenhouse gases.

For more information on ESCO Technologies and how your company 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.

Air Quality Forecasting Resumes for 2024

Air quality forecasting made its return to the region on May 1st, and the ozone season is kicking off with a reminder that the importance of keeping the air we breathe clean is at an all-time high. Millions of people living in America – including those that fall within the bi-state region’s non-attainment area – reside in communities impacted by unhealthy levels of air pollution in the form of high ozone days and increased levels of particulate matter more than ever before.  

“As we prepare to settle into the summer months when we’re at greater risk for poor air quality, the Clean Air Partnership urges area residents to continue their efforts to take voluntary steps to reduce emissions,” said Susannah Fuchs, Director of Clean Air for the American Lung Association in Missouri. “Those actions play a critical role in improving air quality conditions and helping people across the region breathe easier, which is especially important for sensitive populations like pregnant people, children, anyone 65 and older, people with existing lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, and those who work or exercise outdoors.” 

Since transportation has long been reported to have the most profound impact on air quality, making the choice to spend less time behind the wheel is an easy way to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Actions like using transit, carpooling and vanpooling, combining errands into a single trip, telecommuting, and walking and biking more to get around town all help take cars off area roads and keep related emissions out of our air. There are also many other eco-friendly lifestyle changes unrelated to commuting that individuals and businesses can consider to positively impact air quality and improve lung health, including efforts to conserve energy, recycle, reduce waste, reuse items and more.

During the forecasting season, the Partnership ramps up its efforts to inform area residents about ozone pollution levels in the region and how those levels can affect their health by releasing color-coded, daily air quality forecasts to let people 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 is especially crucial on orange or red days, which we saw an excess of this past year. Individuals can now sign up to receive the daily forecast via their email inboxes or text through the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroFlash air quality alert system by visiting There, they can also access a wealth of air quality information and tips to do their share for cleaner air all summer long.

Additional air quality information and the daily forecast can be accessed by liking the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook, or by following the organization on X, formerly known as Twitter, @gatewaycleanair. 

Commit to Cleaner Air and Live Every Day Like it’s Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Spring is in full bloom and the green carpet rolled out today serves as a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging us to come together and take action for a healthier planet and brighter future. While eating greener, collecting recyclables and going outside to enjoy the beauty of nature are oftentimes popular Earth Day activities, there are countless ways to celebrate the holiday that can make a difference all year long.

Simple, eco-friendly lifestyle changes can go a long way when it comes to saving the earth and helping people all across the St. Louis region breathe easier. Here are some helpful tips to consider for celebrating Earth Day each and every day to keep the air quality in healthy ranges:

  • Avoid idling your vehicle – Idling engines produce thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including air toxins which are known to cause cancer, respiratory and reproductive effects, birth defects and various other health concerns. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll help to prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released into our air, so turn your key and be idle free.
  • Ditch disposable plastics – At this very minute, people around the world are buying a million plastic bottles, and most of these bottles will end up in landfills or in the ocean. Not only does the production of plastic bottles contribute significant amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, their litter lingers for years on end. So next time you go for a walk or to the gym, think of Mother Earth and fill up a reusable water bottle. Take green one step further and bring your canvas bag when shopping for groceries, too, to reduce waste and improve air quality.
  • Turn off lights and appliances not in use – Computers, tablets and other electrical devices still use electricity when plugged in, even though they may be idle. Once you wrap up working for the day from home or the office, be sure to power down your computer and unplug any unnecessary electronics. Additionally, when you have to leave home, do a walk-through and turn off all lights to reduce emissions, as energy production is a key source of air pollution.
  • Volunteer for regular community clean-ups – On Earth Day especially, community groups often organize clean-up actions in parks, alongside area roads, rivers, etc. All you need is a trash bag, pair of work gloves, pokey stick, or a grabber and you’re good to go. But if you’re prevented from taking part in the clean-up, you can still help by spreading the good word or partaking in a future event. Area residents can check out any one of earthday365’s upcoming Environmental Justice Days of Action to do their share for cleaner air close to home.

Now is the perfect opportunity to get involved, celebrate the planet we live on and give back to it to create a better world for generations to come. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.