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Near my hometown, the Charlotte Metropolitan area has extremely poor air quality and “high ozone danger” on many days, especially in summertime. They advise us on those days to stay indoors.  Even without any respiratory issues in our family, the idea of breathing in toxic, thick, polluted air is scary.

What happened to our sweet southern city, that I used to brag about being ‘so clean’?Air pollution from industry

A friend recently told me she was uprooting her family to move to Idaho, because it was the only state where she found clean air, and she wanted to raise her kids in a safe place.  It prompted me to do some more research and see just how bad it is.

Even though I knew we had horrible air quality issues, it still surprised me when I read that the American Lung Association’s 2010 State of the Air Report ranked Charlotte/Gastonia/Salisbury as the 10th worst ozone-polluted city in the nation.  I was completely stunned to also hear that our treasured Blue Ridge Mountains have worse air quality than New York City!  I really hope that source was just dead wrong, but I fear he wasn’t.

There is some slightly good news.   We have made some progress since 2008 since our air has improved but we still have much work to do.  My county and five other surrounding counties have continued to FAIL the EPA standards year after year.  With impending stricter laws, we need to act quickly to implement change and breathe easier…before it’s too late, we get fined by the EPA and suffer financial consequences in the state budget.  But more importantly, will we be able to send our kids outside this summer?

There are small and easy changes you can make, to improve air quality in your area.  While you may not have the same issues as we do, chances are (unless you’re in Idaho) if you are in the U.S., your air stinks too!

Did you know a leaking gas cap releases 30 gallons of gas and 200 pounds of emissions into the air annually? Have your cap checked periodically, many times the service is offered by environmental agencies and the cap is replaced at no cost.  This is an easy change that has an immediate global impact…all found in a simple gas cap.

 

Did you know that if your car idles more than 10 seconds, you are:Car Exhaust

1-  Harming the environment and adding to the “bad” ozone?

2-  Wasting gas and money?

3-  Affecting your health?

4-  Adding wear and tear on your engine?

Check out the American Lung Association website to find out more about the health impact from air pollution.

Here are some other easy steps to take:

* Keep tires properly inflated, and aligned…to maximize fuel efficiency.

* Use only energy-conserving (EC) grade motor oil.

* Fill up your tank in the cooler evening or morning hours and don’t spill gas or ‘top off’ the tank.  Keep the gas cap lid as tight as possible.

Map of US air quality*  Check out your area’s daily forecast for air quality at www.airnow.gov and see if it’s safe to go out!