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Posts tagged ‘air pollution’

Join the Clear the Air Challenge 2020

Are you ready for a new challenge? How about one that will help you save money, burn calories, and improve our air quality? Salt Lake City employees are already on board and want to invite you to join the 2020 Clear the Air Challenge. During the month of February, keep our air clear of pollutants by limiting your driving!

You can aim to reduce your “driving-alone” trips every day in February, or pick a goal that’s manageable for you. It all helps!

If you don’t have a team and want to challenge yourself, please join the Clear the Air Challenge SLCgreen Team!

What is the Clear the Air Challenge?

Since 2009, Utahns have been participating in the month-long Clear the Air Challenge. During February, when air quality in Utah is historically bad, participants track their trips with the goal of avoiding single-occupancy vehicle travel and reducing air pollution. Participants carpool, bike, walk, telecommute, trip chain, take public transit, drive electric vehicles, and ride electric bikes or scooters– all to help clear the air!

In 2019, participants in the Clear the Air Challenge eliminated 84,421 single-occupancy vehicle trips. This saved 1,244,624 miles of traveling and $0.4 Million! Together, all these efforts reduced 359.8 tons of CO2!

This year, the Clear the Air Challenge needs everyone’s help to reach the goal of eliminating 100,000 single-occupant trips.  

Clear the Air to Protect Our Health

Winters in Utah can be beautiful, but when inversion starts, polluted air gets caught in our valleys. PM 2.5 and other pollutants threaten our health the well-being of our communities.

On bad air days, our activity is limited. Moreover, children, older adults, and people with heart diseases or respiratory problems are at a higher risk for suffering from poorer health due to bad air. Poor air quality is associated with a range of negative impacts including pregnancy losspremature deathchild asthma, and increased cases of pneumonia.

In Salt Lake City, nearly 50% of air pollution comes from cars, trucks, and other vehicles. That’s why the Clear the Air Challenge is more important than ever.

We love it when the air is clear!

What We’re Doing

Salt Lake City Corporation employees are already signing up to do their part to Clear the Air this year (see our previous Challenge roundup).

Each participating department has its own team. Salt Lake City employees live all over the Wasatch Front. Many of us take public transit to work every day. Others carpool or bike. For the month of February, we’re doing all we can to cut back on our single occupancy car rides!

Salt Lake City departments compete with each other for the coveted Clear the Air Challenge “Mayor’s Cup” and “SLCgreen Team Spirit” award.
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Thanks to the recent public transit expansions, the robust network of bike paths for the sunny days, as well as the Clear the Air Challenge app’s handy carpool guide, the Clear the Air Challenge will make February an exciting and competitive month!

Join SLCgreen’s Clear the Air Challenge Team

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We've Got the December Bad Air Blues

The view from the SLCgreen office on Dec. 4, 2019.

With a week of air that has been some of the worst in the country, it’s no wonder we’re all feeling frustrated. Salt Lake City’s current air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and requires mandatory action of limited driving and no wood burning. For most of us, Salt Lake City’s notoriously bad air is a nuisance and health concern, limiting our activities and turning our skyline grey. Moreover, pollutants like PM 2.5 are dangerous, especially for older residents, children, pregnant women, and people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Air quality is a public health concern, as well as an economic one.

It may come as a surprise that although transportation currently contributes nearly half of the emissions causing Salt Lake City’s bad air, buildings are catching up. Indeed, houses and buildings currently contribute roughly 38% of emissions, and industry point sources produce the other 13%. As emissions standards on cars are becoming more strict, managing emissions from houses and buildings is a growing priority.

PM 2.5 is the primary winter concern in Salt Lake City’s airshed. The particulate matter poses serious health risks and gets trapped in the Salt Lake valley during inversion. Most of the PM 2.5 is a direct result of precursor emissions from tailpipes, smokestacks, and chemicals that mix to form PM 2.5 in the atmosphere.

When you look outside, it may feel like there’s no good news. However, per capita pollution in Utah is decreasing. Salt Lake City is taking steps to help clean the air and protect our public health and environment. Find out how you can keep our airshed (and lungs!) clean and healthy.

What is SLC doing?

Reducing combustion and emissions are a key step towards cleaning the air.

Salt Lake City has many air quality initiatives in place that are helping clean the air. Among these include the continued expansion of EV infrastructure, expanding cleaner vehicles in our fleet, and implementing our energy benchmarking ordinance for nearly 1,000 commercial buildings. Additionally, the HIVE pass provides residents with access to UTA’s public transit system at a reduced cost.

Salt Lake City built the nation’s first Net Zero energy Public Safety Building.
In 2018, Salt Lake City converted five parking enforcement vehicles to all-electric Chevy Bolts. As of Oct. 2019, the Salt Lake City fleet has over 135 hybrids, 32 all-electric vehicles, 72 compressed natural gas heavy duty vehicles, and 117 clean diesel heavy duty vehicles.

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Paying for Poor Air: The Cost of Regional Air Pollution

By SLCgreen intern Kelbe Goupil

Air quality, air quality, air quality…will we ever stop talking about it? Until our air is consistently clean and no longer putting our health and economy at risk, probably not.

Bad air day in Salt Lake City

Talking about air pollution is important to us here at SLCgreen, not only because of how harmful it is to our health but also because of how expensive it is.

Let’s face it: bad air is damaging our economy. And not just in Utah. Air pollution in the U.S. costs the nation at least $131 billion in damages annually, including higher healthcare costs. Globally, the cost of pollution-related death, sickness, and welfare is $4.6 trillion per year, which is about 6.2% of the global economy.

Let’s talk about why that is and what can be done about it. 

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World Environment Day: What We Can Do to Combat Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution

by SLCgreen intern Linda Derhak

World Environment Day 2019

Since 1974, June 5th has been a day for global action to protect the environment. Celebrated in over 100 countries, the UN’s World Environment Day raises awareness on urgent issues such as plastic pollution, sustainable consumption, wildlife crime, and climate change. The day empowers people around the world to create change as individuals and communities. This year’s host country, China, is bringing attention to a pressing global crisis: air pollution.

Global air pollution is worsening. According to the UN, 9 out of 10 people breathe in polluted air and it causes 7 million premature deaths a year. China is leading a charge against air pollution, and countries world-wide are helping make sure people have access to clean air.

Here in Utah, we have our own struggles with air quality — mainly with seasonal issues such as PM2.5 pollution in the winter and ozone pollution in the summer. Across the Beehive State, air pollution leads to increased illness. Salt Lake City and other communities statewide are working to improve air quality and the State’s Department of Air Quality has led many efforts over the years to reduce pollution.

But more is needed.

In honor of #WorldEnviornmentDay and the goal to #BeatAirPollution, here are some easy ways we can all be part of the effort to improve indoor and outdoor air quality.

World Environment Day Air Pollution Statistics
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Avoid the Cold Start

We’re in the midst of a yucky inversion. At one point on Monday, the amount of particulate pollution crossed the 55.5 microgram/cubic meter threshold, which puts us in the red category of “Unhealthy” territory.

Dec 11 Air Quality

Air quality conditions and forecasts are available at http://air.utah.gov

Unfortunately, our weather patterns and geography mean we have to work extra hard to reduce what goes into the air.

One of the simplest things you can do is to leave the car at home.

Did you know that the majority of pollution comes when you simply turn your car on?

It’s the phenomenon of “Cold Starts.”

It means that 60-90% of your commute’s emissions come in the first three minutes. Pretty incredible, huh?

You can learn more about cold starts from UCAIR’s great blog post and video below.

So what can you do? Well, aim to keep your car parked as frequently as possibleeven if it’s just for a day, or a single trip you’re skipping

Cold-Starts

How to avoid the Cold Start: Read more

Inversion Season is Here — Here’s What You Can Do

Be-a-Clean-Air-Champion--Final

 

We’re getting into dirty air season. Our first big inversion is starting this week and is expected to last awhile.

What this means is that a high pressure system is setting up, trapping cold air on the valley floors– and with it all the pollution we collectively emit. Pollution doubles every day during inversions— and it can get yucky.

Salt Lake City is committed to reducing emissions and helping our community breathe easier.

But we need your help. 

A significant source of pollution comes from our cars (roughly 50%), as well as our homes and buildings (roughly 35%). That means each of us can make a difference to our air quality.

This winter, the SLC Sustainability Department will be pushing out regular air quality tips and reminders.

Please join us! Follow along on social media and right here on our blog.  We also encourage you to join our email list to have tips delivered right to your inbox.

Share, repost, and demonstrate your commitment to clearing the air.

The top three things you can do this winter are listed in the graphic above. Click here for more information.

  1. Drive Less— aim to increase your #CarFreeDays to have the most impact. Make use of the Hive Pass if you live in Salt Lake City.
  2. Be Idle Free
  3. Skip the wood burning

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Breathe Clean Festival on November 18

Inversion season is upon us (yuck!)

As we prepare for colder weather and snowfall, it’s also important to understand how to take action on air quality at this time of year. 

UCAIR has helpful resources for understanding Utah’s air pollution problem and what you can do about it.  SLCgreen also has a handy list of actions you can take to reduce your contribution to the bad air.

We’d also like to invite you to come to a free community event on November 18 to learn more.

Breathe Clean Festival

There will be presentations from organizations involved in tackling this issue, as well as helpful giveaways for you and your family (air masks, LED lights, home insulation kits, and more!) Read more