As we celebrate the arrival of a new year, 2020 also marks 25 years of the Clean Air Partnership holding steadfast to its mission of educating the St. Louis metropolitan area about the health risks associated with poor air quality and the impact of everyday actions on the environment. Formed in 1995 by the American Lung Association, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Washington University and others, and today led by the American Lung Association in Missouri, the Clean Air Partnership continues to increase awareness of regional air quality issues and encourage activities to reduce air pollution emissions.
While ozone and particle pollution levels still indicate there are concerns for air pollution in the St. Louis area and nationwide, the region has seen vast improvements over the past quarter of a century. Not only did we once again escape being ranked among the top 25 most-polluted cities in the U.S. this past year, but according to data from East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the number of days where ozone levels in the area exceeded the standard continues to be on the downward trend!
To keep that trend going, year-round, the Clean Air Partnership is focused on inspiring area residents and businesses to take voluntary steps to help clear the air because those actions play a critical role in improving air quality conditions and lung health of our region. With transportation being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, the organization and its many partners, including Citizens for Modern Transit, RideFinders, Metro, Madison County Transit and MoDOT, work hard to educate commuters and business owners about the air quality benefits of alternative transportation options, such as transit use and carpooling. The Clean Air Partnership also highlights many other steps individuals, businesses and municipalities can take to improve air quality, from avoiding vehicle idling and using flex time to telecommuting to take vehicles off the road at high traffic times, and many other simple steps.
Over the past 25 years, the Partnership has probably become best known for its daily air quality forecasting that takes place over the summer months. The forecasts utilize a color-coded system designed to keep area residents informed about ozone pollution levels in the region and our air quality, whether it is in a healthy “green” range, unhealthy “red” range, or somewhere in between. The information is particularly helpful for sensitive populations who may need to modify their outdoor activities on poor air quality days.
Thanks to numerous area residents, businesses, organizations, schools, hospitals and government agencies who work together to support our mission, there are far fewer poor air quality days now than there were when the Clean Air Partnership started. We look forward to continuing to champion this cause and helping the region breathe easier for the next 25+ years, making the metro area an even better place to live, work and play.