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Posts tagged ‘telecommute’

Take the Clear the Air Challenge and Improve Air Quality At Home

February is (finally!) here! And that means that the Clear the Air Challenge has begun!

In the last few years, Utahns have worked together to improve air quality in the Salt Lake Valley. Early last year, the EPA announced Salt Lake City and Provo were in compliance with federal standards for PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter that pollutes our air quality along the Wasatch Front. This significant milestone came after years of community wide work to take action to clear the air.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our air quality, too. Efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve resulted in considerable reductions in PM 2.5 and other air pollutants, up to a 59% reduction in particulate matter by May 2020.

In 2020, we learned that the steps we took to slow coronavirus cases resulted in quick changes to our air quality. COVID-19 continues to threaten our community’s health and economic security, resulting in increased social inequities. Many of the changes we’ve made in this crisis are not sustainable in the long term. However, our work to improve Salt Lake City’s resiliency includes taking actions that support public health and security, and that address environmental issues like air quality.

Clear the air challenge banner. A photo of the wasatch front in winter shows clear blue sky. Text reads "Take the Clear the Air Challenge February 1st-28th."

This month, we challenge Salt Lake City community members to participate in the 12th annual Clear the Air Challenge! The Clear the Air Challenge is a chance to level up your efforts to improve air quality. The Challenge runs the entire month of February, chosen due to the seasonal inversion that makes wintertime air quality especially bad. However, the steps you take this month can make a difference for our air all year long.

For many of us who are still spending more time at home, the challenge will feel a little different this year. We’ve put together some helpful facts, tips, and inspiration to get you going on the 2021 Clear the Air Challenge!

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Help Clear the Air! Sign up for the February Challenge

Clear

Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly 50% of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. These pollutants become a serious concern during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. This allows the air quality in the valley to become filled with particles that can quickly become unhealthy.

While there is much work being done to reduce those emissions (better transit, cleaner vehicles, more active transportation), the fact is– we can and should all help. We can each be a #CleanAirChampion.

There are many ways to participate! They all help the air and give you points in the Challenge:

  • Ride the bus or train
  • Bike or walk to work
  • Link your errands together when you are driving (aka “trip chain”)
  • Skip the trip by working from home or saving that errand for later

It all adds up!

PM25_sources-01

The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that if every driver along the Wasatch Front were to give up driving for just one day per week, it would keep 6,500 tons of emissions (or 85 times the weight of the International Space Station) out of our airshed.

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