WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA REGIONAL AIR POLLUTION CONTROL AGENCY'S 21 WAYS YOU CAN CLEAN THE AIR

AT HOME:

1. Choose lower polluting paints. Choosing the right paint can make a big difference in cleaning up the air. When you can, use paints with no volatile organic compounds, such as some latex paints. If you can't find paints without volatile organic compounds, choose a lower polluting variety. Try to purchase only what you need, but if you have some leftover, recycle it.

Also, keep paint cans tightly closed when not in use, and clean up with water only, whenever possible. If you do use paint with a high volatile content, use a paint brush, not a sprayer.

2. Use natural cleansers. The fumes from chemicals you use around your home also can pollute the air. Here are some natural alternatives:
Instead of lye-based oven cleaners, use water, baking soda, and very fine steel wool pads for tough spots;
For air fresheners, substitute herbal mixtures or vinegar and lemon juice; and
Use herbal products that act as repellents or cedar chips or cedar oil instead of mothballs.

3. Plant Care. Plant a tree. Trees add oxygen to the atmosphere, absorb some pollutants, cool temperatures and reduce dust. They also save energy and reduce global warming. A total of 300 trees can counterbalance the amount of air pollution one person produces in a lifetime.

4. Keep dust down. Airborne dirt and dust are recognized as a big health problem. If you're doing major construction or renovation, wet down or cover piles of dirt, roads, parking areas - anywhere dust can be kicked up by vehicles or blown around by the wind. Drive slowly on dirt roads and avoid using leaf blowers.

5. Barbecue with gas. The reformulated charcoal lighter fluids produce less pollution than ever before. A newspaper-ignited "chimney" produces even less pollution. But burning wood or charcoal briquettes still produces smoke and particle pollution, which has been linked to many different illnesses and can worsen chronic heart and lung disease. When you barbecue, the best bet is using clean-burning propane or natural gas.

6. Use your electricity efficiently. A year's worth of electricity in the average home sends 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air from power plants, adding to global warming and day-to-day smog. Here are some tips to reduce your use:
Turn electric appliances off during peak times between noon and 5 p.m.
Use "Greenlights" or energy efficient lighting, and turn off lights when not in use.
Clean your refrigerator coils twice a year.
Load washers and dryers to full capacity, and wash with cold water when you can.
Use the microwave oven for small portions or defrosting. It uses around 50% less energy than conventional ovens.
Install ceiling fans. They consume as little energy as a 60 watt bulb -- about 98% less energy than most central air conditioners use. In the winter, a ceiling fan with a motor that runs in reverse can help save energy by pushing warm air down from the ceiling.
Whenever possible use cold instead of hot water, and insulate your water heater.

7. Insulate your home. The less energy used for heating and cooling, the less pollution from electric power plants and burning of natural gas. If you can't add attic or wall insulation, you can still caulk and weather-strip doors and windows and close off unused rooms. This not only saves energy. It saves money.

8. Go solar for home and water heating. Water and space heating account for more than 50% of household energy use. Installing solar energy sources reduces the need to burn fossil fuels. Even without solar, you can cut energy by turning down the thermostat at night during winter or up in summer. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat that automatically turns off your air conditioner or heater during the day when nobody is home.

ON THE ROAD:

9. Rideshare or use public transit. Even one day a week helps. If high ozone levels are predicted, try to carpool or ride the bus and postpone avoidable smog-producing activities.

10. Ride a bicycle or walk. Bicycling and walking are great for short trips. Human power produces no emissions and the exercise has health benefits of its own. And it's a great way to explore Western North Carolina.

11. Combine errands into one trip. Instead of hopping in a car whenever you need something, set aside time to plan your errands. Cluster as many as possible. This not only saves pollution, it saves time for you to do other things. Also, avoid idling your car for long periods of time. Vehicle idling produces large amounts of carbon monoxide and ozone precursors.

12. Keep your car engine well tuned. Untuned engines and clogged air filters waste gas and lower engine performance. They also cause increased emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, two of our most persistent smog problems.

13. Conserve gasoline. It's a fact that speeding, stomping on the gas pedal and other things make your car burn more gas and cause more air pollution. Because gas mileage goes down at higher speeds, more carbon dioxide is produced, which contributes to global warming. Also, the more gas you burn, the more gasoline is refined, shipped in trucks and pumped, all of which increases air pollution.

You can take other steps to improve mileage and reduce pollution such as keeping your tires properly inflated to reduce rolling resistance, keeping your windows closed while driving on highways to reduce aerodynamic drag, rolling down your windows at lower speeds to reduce air conditioner use and remembering to accelerate smoothly.

14. Never top off your tank. Spilled gas is wasteful, contributes to smog and fills the air with cancer-causing toxic pollutants such as benzene.

15. Ask your employer to consider flexible work schedules or telecommuting. Compressed work weeks, flextime and telecommuting via computer all reduce traffic congestion and its accompanying emissions. Many employers like the increased productivity and improved morale; employees like the flexibility.

16. Report industrial pollution. WNCRAPCA's trained inspectors regularly check more than 350 area industries and businesses operating under WNCRAPCA's permitting system. If you suspect a business or industry violating air quality rules, call us and we'll investigate.

17. Know your labels. Labels marked degradable, photodegradable, recycled, biodegradable, and ozone friendly can be confusing. These tips may help:
A photodegradable product breaks down when exposed to sunlight.
Biodegradable products will degrade if exposed to air, water and micro-organisms;
Degradable products could be helpful in a composting system;
Almost all products -- paper, plastic, glass, and metal -- can technically be recycled. If a product labeled "recyclable" ends up being thrown away, it's not being recycled.
Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) have not been used in most aerosol sprays since the 1970s. And, CFCs have been removed from many styrofoam products. Both may contain other ingredients that could harm the environment. In other words, "ozone friendly" or made without CFCs, does not necessarily mean it's good for the environment.

BE A GREEN CONSUMER:

18. Buy low emissions car. Next time you purchase a car, take into account how your choice will affect air quality. The car you purchase is one of the most important decisions you make in terms of your overall environmental impact. So before you buy, consider if your choice is the cleanest and/or the most fuel efficient.

19. Dress for cleaner air. You can help reduce pollution by the way you dress. Choose clothes that do not have to be dry cleaned for as many occasions as possible. Dry cleaning releases toxic air pollution into your environment. When clothes that need professional cleaning are dirty, find one of the small but growing number of cleaners that offer "wet washing'" a non-toxic alternative to dry cleaning that is proven to be just as effective.

Also, your clothing, towels, bed linen and other products are now available in naturally-colored cotton that is free from pesticides, bleaching and chemical processing.

20. Choose "green" products. When your incandescent lighting goes out, replace it with compact fluorescent lights. Consider replacing old refrigerators and other energy-using appliances with newer energy-efficient models. For example, a gas stove with an electronic ignition system uses about 40% less gas than one with a pilot light.

If you're looking to buy a computer, select one that meets EPA's Energy Star standards.

If you're looking to buy any lawn care equipment fueled by gasoline, consider purchasing equipment with a four cycle versus a two cycle engine. Four cycle engines have been shown to be much less polluting than their two cycle counterparts.

21. Check our your local resources. Recycling is great, but only if you know what to do with your recycled products and where to take them. Check your local city or county governments for details. Call your electric and water utilities and request information on energy and water-saving tips.

For more information, contact:
Western North Carolina Regional Air Pollution Control Agency
49 Mt. Carmel Road
Asheville, NC 28806
828-255-5655
www.wncair.org
wncrapc@mindspring.org
END

Back to MAIN