Cleaning the Air… What You Can Do

Behind the Wheel

On hot, sunny days, when conditions are conducive to smog…

  • Consider ways to limit your driving. If itspractical, walk, share a ride, ride a bike or use public transportation. Andavoid unnecessary trips by combining errands.
  • Dont let your car idle for long periods of timewhen stopped in traffic or waiting in line at a drive-through window. Turn offthe motor - even if it is just for a few minutes.
  • Avoid driving during rush hour, if possible.Your employer already may encourage flexible work schedules, which can cut autoemissions - not to mention stress and commuting time.


  • Keep your car well tuned, clean your fuel filters,reduce unnecessary weight and monitor your gasoline mileage. These simple stepswill help keep your car running efficiently - which not only reduces pollutionbut also saves you money!
  • Have your cars emission controls checked yearlyto ensure they are working properly.
  • When filling your gas tank, dont pull thevapor-catcher back from the nozzle, and dont top off the tank bypulling the nozzle out. This will help minimize emissions.
  • Save fuel and minimize emissions by avoidingsudden acceleration and unnecessary braking. Drive at steady speeds and dontrev the engine when idling.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated, balanced androtated. This will not only boost gas mileage but also extend the life of yourtires. Remember that radial tires produce less air pollution than bias-plytires.

At Home

Conserving energy saves you money and reduces pollutioncreated when electricity is generated. Conserve by:

  • Turning off lights.
  • Selecting energy-efficient appliances.
  • Insulating and weatherizing your home.
  • Keeping windows closed when the heat or airconditioning is running.
  • Using air conditioning only when its necessary.

Other tips:

  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and gardenequipment on hot summer days when smog alerts are forecast. Running agas-powered lawn mower for one hour emits the same amount of pollution asdriving your car from Washington, D.C., to New York City and back.
  • Never burn leaves, branches and other debris inyour yard. Burning this material produces harmful emissions that can contributeto smog and other types of air pollution.
  • Participate in recycling programs. Recyclingkeeps trash out of incinerators and reduces emissions associated with burningsolid waste.

Progress Against Pollution

Twenty-five years ago, we knew far less than we do todayabout how our actions can affect the air around us. Smokestacks pumped largevolumes of pollutants into the atmosphere without restraint, cars were designedwith little attention to emissions, and gasoline was gasoline. We, asindividuals, also were less concerned about our own actions and their impact onthe environment, including air quality.

Since that time, however, weve made major progress inreducing air pollution. Here are several examples:

  • Since 1970, Americans have cut releases of airpollutants by more than 50 million tons. If you put that many tons into dumptrucks lined up bumper to bumper, they would stretch from Baltimore to Dallasthe long way - around the world!
  • It would take 20 of todays new cars to generatethe same amount of pollution as one mid-1960s model car. In another 10 years,thanks to new automotive and fuel technologies, it will take 33 cars to producethe emissions of one mid-1960s model.
  • Compared with just 10 years ago, Americaslargest cities are recording dramatically fewer days on which air qualityexceeds federal standards.
  • One major pollutant, lead, is nearly gone fromour air. Since the mid-1970s, levels of airborne lead are down 96 percent. Ifyou reduced the United States by 96 percent, youd be left only with Montana.

Despite these achievements, theres still room forimprovement. Everyone can help make a difference in this effort. Just considerthis:

  • If only 100 employees commuted to work in pairsinstead of driving alone for only two weeks of the year, they would save 75pounds of hydrocarbons, 30 pounds of nitrogen oxides, 550 pounds of carbonmonoxide and 500 gallons of gasoline. Imagine what we can achieve if we all doour part.

Click here for information on recycling in your area from the United States Environmental/Recycling Hotline.