10 simple ways you can reduce air pollution
1. Limit use of gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and snow blowers. Electric mowers or manual push mowers pollute less while saving you money on gas.
2. Avoid using chemical pesticides or fertilizers in your yard and garden. Many fertilizers are a source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Try organic products instead (see number 3).
3. Compost your yard waste instead of burning it; or chip it and use it for mulch. Outdoor burning is no longer allowed in many areas of the state; but even if you live in an area where it is allowed, breathing smoke is bad for you, your family and your neighbors. Plus, you can use the compost or mulch in your garden (see number 2).
4. If you use a wood stove or fireplace to heat your home, make sure it meets Washington's standards. You can find lists of stoves and fireplaces that meet these standards on Ecology's web site. Go to www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/airhome.html, then click on "Indoor Burning." Even the cleanest stoves or fireplaces still emit some smoke, so consider switching to another form of heat.
5. Be energy efficient. Most traditional sources of energy burn fossil fuels, causing air pollution. Keep your home well-maintained with weather-stripping, storm windows, and insulation. Lowering your thermostat can also help. For every two degrees Fahrenheit you lower it in the winter or raise it in the summer, you save about two percent on your heating bill.
6. Plant trees! Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and filter out air pollution.
On the road:
7. Keep your vehicle well maintained. A poorly maintained engine both creates more air pollution and uses more fuel. Replace oil and air filters regularly, and keep your tires properly inflated.
8. Drive less. In these days of high gas prices, carpooling, walking, bicycling, riding the bus, or working from home can save you money as well as reducing air pollution.
9. Don’t idle your vehicle. If you stop for more than 30 seconds, except in traffic, turn off your engine. Idling a vehicle for a total of 10 minutes a day uses an average of about 22 gallons of gas per year, as well as polluting the air. By turning your vehicle's engine off when it isn’t moving, you’ll save money on gas and breathe cleaner air.
10. Don’t buy more car than you need. Four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, engine size, vehicle weight, and tire size all affect the amount of fuel your vehicle uses. The more fuel it uses, the more air pollution it causes.
More information on individual actions and community programs can be found at the following links:
No Idle Zone Information (external link) - how to reduce vehicle idling at schools and businesses in your community
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