What can I do to improve North Carolina's air quality?
Ozone and particle pollution, the two biggest air quality concerns in North Carolina, come from many of the same sources, primarily motor vehicles and industry (including power plants). Our individual activities create air pollution, and all of us have the power to improve air quality through our actions. Try some of the following:
- Leave your car at home. Take the bus, car pool, van pool, walk or ride your bike to your destination.
- Don't drive to lunch. Take a meal or walk to a nearby restaurant instead of driving out to eat during the workday.
- Drive right. When you do drive your car, use cruise control whenever practical and stay within the speed limit. Avoid sudden stops and starts. Plan ahead and combine short trips whenever possible to avoid cold starts. Your vehicle may be your single biggest impact on air quality. Make air quality a priority by factoring emissions and fuel efficiency into your vehicle purchasing decisions. Find how vehicles compare by using the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide or the US Department of Energy's fuel economy website.
- Keep vehicles maintained. Keep your car, boat, and lawn equipment tuned up and follow your car's maintenance schedule. Engines that are well maintained are more fuel-efficient and cause less pollution.
- Check your tire pressure. Keep your tires properly inflated; you'll save gas and reduce tire wear, too.
- Don't idle. Avoid idling in drive-through lanes - park and walk in instead. Idling your vehicle wastes gas and increases pollution, and idling can damage your car more than shutting off and re-starting your engine.
- Refuel at dusk. Postpone refueling your car until after 6 p.m. on Air Quality Action Days. This reduces the emissions during the peak daylight hours when ozone formation is most likely.
- Don't top off your tank. When refueling your vehicle, stop at the click to avoid spilling gas and polluting the air and surface water.
- Reduce use of gasoline-powered lawn equipment.The small engines in lawn care equipment are major polluters. Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment whenever possible, and consider landscaping to reduce the amount of grass on your property. On Air Quality Action Days, wait until after 6:00 p.m. to use gas-powered lawn equipment.
- Conserve electricity. In the summer, set your air conditioning at the highest comfortable temperature (try 78 degrees). During winter, try a setting of 68 - 70 degrees to reduce electricity use by your heat pump. Reduce wintertime particulate matter pollution from oil furnaces by keeping them well maintained. Use ceiling fans to increase both cooling and heating efficiency. Turn off appliances when not in use. Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing major appliances.
- Try something different. Use water-based paints and cleaners instead of solvent-based products.