Unlike land or water resources, air is shared the world over! Air pollution affects the quality of the air we breathe and can seriously affect our health. Air pollution also affects the health of the planet through climate change and the gradual depletion of atmospheric ozone layer. In 2006, 43% of the State’s population resided in the South Coast Air Basin (which includes Orange County), and sources within the Basin were responsible for 29% of the State’s total criteria pollutant emissions. Mobile sources (autos, trains, airplanes, ships) and consumer products (building coatings, household cleaners, lawn mowers, wood-burning fireplaces) contributed approximately 80% of the region’s air pollution. As a result, much of Southern California, including the City of Orange, has the highest levels of air pollution in the country.
Since the majority of air pollution comes from mobile sources like autos and consumer products, the business sector has a unique opportunity to reduce pollutant emissions in Orange. Check out tips to improve your indoor and outdoor air quality, and also our rebates and programs that can help.
Want to know more about greenhouse gas emissions and indoor and outdoor air concern in Orange and the region?
Air Quality Tips
Take it outside! – Secondhand smoke is a leading cause of asthma. Set clear company policy for smoking in the work place and company vehicles. For employee and customer health and safety, designate smoking areas for employees, who desire to do so, away from work areas and the general public. Insure the space is well ventilated and that smoke is significantly prevented from blowing into general work and commune areas.
Avoid aerosol products! – For every aerosol product, there is an alternative on the market. Reduce greenhouse gases by buying the competitor. Revamp your purchasing policies to specify non aerosol products only.
Avoid using pesticides! – There are often natural remedies for pests and unwanted plant life. Request that your landscapers use natural insect and pest controls when possible. For example, baits and traps are always better for the air than sprays. Weeds should be pulled and mulch used to prevent them from returning.
Paint it GREEN! – Repainting your office? Use low or zero-VOC paint and stains. There are a wide variety and brands of natural products. Read labels and look for third party green certified products such as Green Seal or Ecologo. When possible, use a brush not a sprayer to cut down on airborne particles. For perspective, it is estimated that painting homes and structures in the region attribute five times the air pollution caused by regional oil refineries (50 tons per day of smog-forming pollutants). If you are planning a paint project, visit the air district’s Steps for Conscientious Painters for helpful tips and safety procedures.
See the difference! – Switch to fluorescent lights. New compact fluorescents (CFLs) use less energy, pollute less and last longer. CFLs do contain small amounts of Mercury, so don’t throw them in the trash. Call for the City’s Hazardous Waste Collection Service at (714) 834-6752, or bring them to a collection location, such as your local Home Depot or IKEA.
Buy low-VOC furniture! – Many furniture manufacturers use glue and chemically treated materials. Instead, revamp your purchasing policies to buy furniture made with solid materials and minimal glues. You could also buy vintage or refurbished furniture for your staff.
Rule of Thumb:_
If it smells like chemicals in the store, it will smell like chemicals in your office.
Use Low-VOC carpet and adhesives – Replacing the office carpet? Many carpets and carpet adhesives emit harmful chemical odors. Protect your employee's health by using responsible suppliers and installers, and non-toxic low VOC adhesives.
For your safety – Be sure that maintenance staff conduct monthly tests on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t own either of these, you may be in violation of the fire code. You can find them at hardware, discount and warehouse chains. Remember the old adage, safety comes first!
What’s on the wall? – Excess moisture in dark corners can breed mold and mildew. Discolorations in the paint may be a sign of a mold problem. Replace moldy ceiling tiles and carpet. Also, help avoid health concerns by cleaning and testing your ventilation system as recommended by vendor.
Healthy cleaning – For the protection of your cleaning staff and other indoor employees, revamp you maintenance policies to specify healthy, green cleaning products. Consult our Additional Resources reading selection for more all-natural, clean-green ideas.
Baking soda, vinegar and other home remedies offer equivalent or better results without the harsh chemical effects.
Drive smart! – Review training programs and policy for employees and all those with access to company vehicles to ensure they drive smart. For instance, drivers should avoid fast starts and hard breaking, saving the air and money. It is also important to combine trips and eliminate unnecessary trips. Driver logs can help improve employee habits.
Be fuel-efficient! – Employees should know that warming an engine prior to driving avoids inefficient "Cold Starts." For businesses with evening operations, fueling after dusk eliminates pollution and stretches your fuel dollar. Fueling during the day increases smog by exposing pump vapors to the heat of the sun. Besides, gas expands with heat, so filling the tank in the evening will also help save at the pump.
Be a responsible owner! – If your company has a single car or a fleet of vehicles, maintain efficient exhaust emissions by keeping cars tuned and replacing air filters, as needed. It is also important to check tire pressure once every couple weeks. Under inflated tires can effect tire wear as well as gas mileage. The AQMD reported that older vehicles and those improperly maintained emit at least 20 times more pollution than newer models in good working order.
Buying new company vehicles? – Consider investing in a low emissions vehicle. All major brands offer some version of a low emission vehicle, such as: hybrids, Compressed Natural Gas vehicles (CNGs), and even gas-free Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs). Check out our Green Machines page.
What's your policy? – If you haven't already, encourage or institute incentives for the use of carpooling, public transportation and bike programs to encourage employee savings and health.
Smell the roses! – Plant trees and landscape, today! Vegetation removes CO2 from the atmosphere and replaces it with oxygen.
Are you a green cleaner? – Southland dry cleaners account for approximately 850 tons per year of perchloroethylene, a toxic chemical emitted into the air during the dry cleaning process. If you haven't updated your business to non-toxic methods, contact the local air resources board for guidance and information on incentives.
Get some fresh air! – If possible, request landscapers use a rake instead of a leaf blower. Also request landscapers switch out their gas-powered mower for an electric or push model. Older gasoline models pollute as much as a new car driven 86,000 miles. WOW that’s scary!
Save energy! – Cutting-back on your energy use can greatly improve global air quality. Visit our Energy page for ideas!
Don't lose power on your idea, the City is now offering "priority processing" for PEV charging station building permits and inspections. In many cases, this means same day permits! Visit our “What is the City Doing to Help?” page to find out more.
You may also be eligible for rebates, services or other incentive programs through the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). The air district has many clean air programs. Here are a few of those listed on their Funding Incentives / Opportunities webpage.
Are you a landscape contractor? Get on the notification list for the spring of 2009 Lawn Mower Exchange Program. Don’t miss your opportunity to mow off into the sunset with a new electric mower! Furthermore, the AQMD recently finished their 2008 Leafblower Exchange Program. If you missed-out, take a breath and keep an eye peeled for the next opportunity to switch-it-up.
Does your office have a wood-burning fire place? In an effort to reduce particulate matter emissions in the Southland, the air district is now offering a Gas Log Purchase Incentive Program. Upgrading to a gas fireplaces, can save your health and reduce the burden of operating a wood-burning fireplace. Plus, the program is as easy as they come; participating dealers handle all the paperwork.
Scrapping your old company vehicles? If so, you may want to consider the air district’s voluntary retirement program. Through the Old Vehicle Scrapping Program, the air district promotes the removal of high pollutant vehicles. The eligibility of and price paid for a vehicle are determined by qualified scrap yards. The value of an approved auto will be proportional to its level of pollution.
If you are a small business in the South Coast, review your districts assistance programs. For instance, as of December 2002, the AQMD has offered up to $20,000 to qualified business owners through the Dry Cleaner Financial Incentive Grant Program. If your company still operates with high pollutant machines and methods, please find-out how you can change.
Have you truckers heard the news?The Carl Moyer Heavy-Duty Truck Fleet Modernization Program could be the answer for suppliers and truckers. This program operates on a first come first serve basis and could help you cover up to 80% of the replacement cost for your pre-1990 heavy-duty diesel vehicles in favor of newer natural gas and diesel trucks. If you're interested or just curious, find out how you might help to change the air.
Don’t be a stinker! Clean air is the gift you owe yourself and your employees. Join the City of Orange in helping the world breathe easier by following the suggestions above.