DENVER – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed on April 12 downgrading the northern Front Range ozone issues from “serious” to “severe,” which would mean state officials would have to come up with new rules to reduce air pollution in the Denver metro area.
The proposal would mean Colorado would have to switch to “reformulated gasoline” (a blend that burns more cleanly than typical gasoline) during the summer months, and businesses would be subjected to more regulations on emissions.
While it may take a couple of years for some of these proposals to shape up (if the downgrades are approved in the first place), you may be wondering: What can I do now to help my state? Here are some tips.
Try not to drive or combine trips
This is a motto you’ve likely seen on Colorado Department of Transportation billboards all over the state this summer.
“We know that cars and trucks are certainly in the top two sources of ozone pollution in this region,” said Gregg Thomas, the division director of the Denver Environmental Quality Division.
Experts recommend driving as little as possible, carpooling or taking public transit whenever available to help.
The concept is simply: the more cars on the road, the more pollution goes into the air and sitting in traffic certainly doesn’t help matters.
“Try to get (errands) all done in one trip. It means your car is warmed up. Even in the summertime, believe it or not, a cold engine causes more pollution than a warm one,” Thomas said.
Telecommuting to work is also a good idea if your employer allows it. The idea was even recently brought up at a recent Air Quality Control Commission meeting last month. It would have required employers with a staff of 100 or more in the Denver Metro area to have some level of remote work on poor air quality days. However, the proposal faced broad resistance.
Thomas believes a similar version, perhaps with more voluntary compliance, will be introduced again in the near future.
Make sure your care is tuned up
A well-running car means more fuel efficiency which means less pollution.
Things like a tune-up and making sure your tires are properly inflated are small but important ways to cut down on your carbon footprint and to be a good air quality steward.
Don’t fill up your gas tank during the day
This is another recommendation that’s been reverberated time and again over the years on high ozone days.
Every time you fill up your gas tank, a little bit of the fuel leaks into the air.
Filling up your gas tank during the day releases those same organic compounds and allows the sun to photochemically convert it into ozone more quickly than would be the case in the evening.
Don’t do yard work during the day
This recommendation isn’t just about mowing the lawn but using any type of gas-powered landscaping tool.
“Gas-powered landscaping equipment, I would say, is pound-for-pound probably the most polluting type of engines that we have anymore,” Thomas said. “Those gasoline-powered engines really do not have pollution controls.”
Lawn work is better saved for a day with better air quality or should be done in the evening.
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