Let’s Clear the Air Today



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Transportation is a lifeline for many—connecting them to people, place, and possibilities. Cities and local governments around the world understand the reliance on fossil fuels to power cars, buses, trucks, and delivery fleets. However, transportation is responsible for the highest amount of air pollution in America.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that transportation produced 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Every day, vehicles emit gaseous pollutants throughout their life cycle, from the manufacturing stage to operation such as particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), air toxics, and greenhouse gases (GHGs). For example, Heavy-duty vehicles make up about 5% of all vehicles on the road, yet account for over 25% of the transportation sector’s GHG emissions.

Health and the Community

 

PM and GHGs also cause many respiratory health effects. Studies have shown that vehicle emissions are tied to health risks on almost every organ system in the body and are linked to different types of cancers—fetuses, newborn children, and people with chronic illnesses are especially susceptible.

 

Low-income communities (or Disadvantaged communities) have a disproportionately higher exposure to air pollution. These communities are often located near roadways and fright centers and may lack the resources to fight air pollution. In addition, there are various environmental impacts, from threats to the ecosystems of national parks and wilderness areas to the acidification of lakes and streams. The food we’re eating, the water we’re drinking, and the weather we’re experiencing are also affected.

Let’s Help Each Other Breathe Easier

 

Now that you know how transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gases, today is the day to act: it’s California Clean Air Day. The event is organized by the Coalition for Clean Air and meant to encourage personal changes that can help reduce air pollution in the state.

 

California deals with some of the worst air pollution in the US—making up at least 6 of the top ten most polluted spots. But there are a few ways to do our part and clear the air. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce emissions:

 

  1. Biking or using mass transit—As part of California Clean Air Day, Metro is offering free access to its bike share program and free rides on its train and buses.

  2. Installing solar panels

  3. Work from home

  4. Combining online purchases into a single shipment

  5. Skipping meat one day a week

  6. Planting a tree, indoor plant, or home garden

  7. Switching out a home air filter or cabin air filter

 

The Road Ahead

 

Considering the health and environmental effects of carbon emission, the EPA is implementing programs and standards for fuels and vehicles in hopes of significantly reducing air pollution, as well as contribute to the development of clean vehicle and engine technology.

 

Additionally, the government is pushing for transportation electrification to become the new normal with the US Department of Energy investing in the installation of 18,000 residential, commercial, and public charging stations. The Bipartisan Infrastructure deal, for example, represents a historic investment in EV Charging infrastructure that will vastly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

 

So, although transportation is one of the main culprits behind CO2 emissions, air pollution, and public health issues, cutting air pollution and expanding the Clean Air Act by transitioning away from burning fossil fuels in our homes, businesses and vehicles can help us work towards a cleaner more sustainable future.

 

Let’s celebrate today, and clear the air together!

 

 

Sources:

  1. The US Environmental Protection Agency: Overview of Air Pollution from Transportation- https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/learn-about-air-pollution-transportation#poor_air

  2. The US Environmental Protection Agency: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle- https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle

  3. Union of Concerned Scientists- https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/cars-trucks-buses-and-air-pollution

  4. The Daily News- https://www.dailynews.com/2021/10/04/free-metro-rides-wednesday-for-california-clean-air-day/

  5. The Coalition for Clean Air- https://www.ccair.org/



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