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, YOU can make a difference just by making a few changes. Check out tips to improve your indoor and outdoor air quality, and also our rebate information 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 in the home. If you are a smoker, save your family and friend's health and discomfort by avoid smoking in the home or car.
Try a gas log! – Switch your wood burning devices to cleaner natural gas. Approximately 1.4 million homes in the Southland use wood-burning stoves and devices, emitting an average of six tons per day of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) into the air (more than four times as much as all of the power plants in the four-county region). Check for rebates that can help!
Avoid aerosol products! – For every aerosol product, there is an alternative on the market. Reduce green house gases by buying the competitor. Flex your consumer power!
Avoid using pesticides! – There are often natural remedies for pests and unwanted plant life. Use natural insect and pest controls when possible. For example, silverfish can prevent mosquitoes in ponds and wet areas. Baits and traps are always better for the air than sprays. If you have weeds, pull them and use mulch to prevent them from returning. Consult your local nursery for more ideas.
Paint it GREEN! – Use low or zero-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paint and stains. There are a wide variety of colors 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 air-born 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, buy furniture made with solid materials and minimal glues. You could also buy vintage or refurbished furniture.
Rule of Thumb:_
If it smells like chemicals in the store, it will smell like chemicals in your home.
Use Low-VOC carpet and adhesives – Many carpets and carpet adhesives emit harmful chemical odors. Shop around for healthy alternatives.
For your safety – Be sure to conduct monthly tests on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t own either of these, you can find them at hardware, discount and warehouse chains. Remember the old adage, safety comes first!
Do you have pets? – Pet dander may unknowingly be troubling your family and friends. Pet owners should take special care to dust and vacuum regularly, because pet dander, urine and saliva are known causes of allergies and asthma.
Healthy house cleaning – Clean windows with vinegar and water. Consult our Additional Resources reading selection for more all-natural, clean-green ideas.
Keep it clean! – You can reduce possible exposure to mold or mildew by cleaning your refrigerator drip pan at least once every six months. Don’t leave food or garbage out which can attract critters. Dust and vacuum your home often to get rid of dust, pollen and mites. Use of dust-proof (allergen impermeable) zippered covers for your pillows and mattresses could also help.
Baking soda, vinegar and other home remedies offer equivalent or better without the harsh chemical effects.
What’s on the wall? – Excess moisture in your closets, shoes and dark corners of the house can breed mold and mildew. Discolorations in the paint may be a sign of a mold problem. Replace moldy ceiling tiles and carpet right away. In extreme cases, consult an industrial hygiene professional.
Are you auto aware? – Personal driving habits make a huge difference in Orange’s air quality. Calculate your auto emissions with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Impact Score or try the Travelmatters Emissions Calculator (use Los Angeles as your proximate city). Try these tips and improve your score.
New Car? Get a Green Machine! – If you're buying a new car, please consider one of the many low emissions vehicles on the market. 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). Learn about all the great GREEN alternatives!
Drive smart! – Avoid fast starts and hard breaking. You’ll save the air and money. You can also save by combining car trips and eliminating unnecessary trips. If at all possible, try to work within 10 miles of your home. Shorter commutes mean more time for you and your family.
Be fuel-efficient! – Warm your engine before driving to avoid inefficient "Cold Starts." Fuel after dusk to eliminate pollution and stretch your dollar. Fueling during the day increases smog by exposing pump vapors to the heat of the sun. Besides, gas expands with heat, so filling your tank in the evening will also help you save at the pump.
Be a responsible owner! – If you own a car, maintain efficient exhaust emissions by keeping your car tuned and replacing your air filters, as needed. It is also important to check your 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.
Cut back on your gas bill! – Try green commuting at least once a week, such as carpooling, public transportation or a peddle-bike, if you are close enough. You’ll finally get to use that carpool lane during rush-hour. And, you might enjoy the savings and lack of stress. If you need a new car, switch to a low horsepower, high miles per gallon car, such as a hybrid. If you don’t need a car all of the time, investigate car-share programs. You’ll save a bundle on gas, insurance and maintenance.
Report nuisances! – Report smoking vehicle and other suspected air pollution violations by calling 1-800-CUT-SMOG.
Does your dry cleaner care about the air? – Southland dry cleaners account for approximately 850 tons per year of perchloroethylene, a toxic chemical emitted into the air during the dry cleaning process. Let them know you care by switching to a responsible cleaner, which uses non-toxic methods. Ask your dry cleaner if their processes are environmentally friendly! Start by asking if the cleaners is a Drycleaning & Laundry Institute’s (DLI) Certified Environmental Drycleaner (CED), which ensures thorough knowledge of chemical-handling safety. Don't use a drycleaner that uses perchloroethylene as the drycleaning solvent. To go a little further, ask if the cleaners uses energy efficient equipment, or reuses wire hangers.
Get some exercise – Walk, bike or some other pedestrian activity whenever possible. If residents of the South Coast Air Basin replaced 3% of car and light truck trips with bicycle trips by 2010, the region would save an estimated 1,027,214 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per annum, resulting in the reduction of 1.38 tons per day of smog-forming gases (ROG and NOx), .25 tons per day of PM10, and 7.78 tons per day of carbon monoxide. Where’s my bike?
It’s always good to check the Air Report before outdoor physical activity. The AQMD defines the Air Quality Index and cautions on the effects of air pollutants.
Get some fresh air! – Use a rake instead of a leaf blower. You’ll do a better job, and get a little exercise. If you own a gas-powered mower, exchange it for an electric or push model. (Check out our rebates!) Older gasoline models pollute as much as a new car driven 86,000 miles. WOW that’s scary!
Smell the roses! – Plant trees and landscape, today! Vegetation removes CO2 from the atmosphere and replaces it with oxygen.
Prevent fires! – Be sure to check your fire extinguishers each month. If you have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in your home, test and reset at least every few months.
Save energy! – Cutting-back on your energy use can greatly improve global air quality.
Get in gear and drive past fossil-fuels with the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), funded by the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (ARB) and administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE). Rebates are available for purchase or lease of qualified vehicles. You could save up to $5,000 on plug-in hybrids and zero emission, light-duty vehicles or $20,000 for approved zero emission, commercial vehicles. Want a different incentive program? Check-out the U.S. Department of Energy for the most up-to-date listing.
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 that are listed on their Funding Incentives / Opportunities webpage.
For you lawn lovers, get on the notification list for the annual Lawn Mower Exchange Program. Don’t miss your opportunity to mow-off into the sunset with a new electric mower! The AQMD also offers an annual Leafblower Exchange Program. If you missed it this year, keep your eyes peeled for the next opportunity.
Honey… could you flick-on the gas log? This could be you! In an effort to reduce particulate matter emissions in the southland, the AQMD is now offering a Gas Log Purchase Incentive Program. Upgrading to a gas fireplace 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.
Are you looking to get rid of your old vehicle? If so, you may want to consider the AQMD's voluntary retirement program. Through the Old-Vehicle Scrapping Program, AQMD 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.
Don’t be a stinker! Clean air is the gift you owe yourself and your family. Join the City of Orange in helping the world breathe easier by following the suggestions above.