The annual Spare the Air season has officially kicked off with four Spare the Air Days already declared by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District this year.
The season runs May through October. Spare the Air advisories are issued when air quality is expected to be unhealthy due to high ozone levels.
"The Spare the Air season is a reminder for the public to be especially aware of their activities that affect air quality," said Scott Haggerty Alameda County Supervisor and a member of the Air District board of directors. "The major culprits are emissions from motor vehicles, but everything from operating gasoline powered gardening equipment to smoky BBQ grills produce air pollutants. This is especially critical in the Tri-Valley where bad air blows in from the west, combines with locally produced air pollution and high summer temperatures creating unhealthy air quality conditions."
Haggerty said that this year the program will have a new element called "The Great Race for Clean Air Challenge" that will target Tri-Valley businesses. During August and September, Tri-Valley public organizations and private businesses will compete with each other to encourage their employees to experiment with alternative ways to get to work.
"Employees can use this as an opportunity to see what works best for them and even if they use options such as carpooling or transit rather than driving alone to work one or two days a week, this can have a great impact on improving air quality," Haggerty said.
The Tri-Valley Air Quality Resource Team, comprised of members from local public agencies and private businesses and sponsored by the Air District, organizes and oversees the competition. This year local Chambers of Commerce are partnering with the team to promote the program.
The Great Race was launched in 2008 with trophies awarded to SuperGen of Dublin and AT&T in San Ramon. Employees are provided an on-line diary through www.511.org to track their activities with results calculated at the end of the Challenge. Random prize drawings for participants are conducted throughout the competition.
For more information on the Great Race for Clean Air Challenge contact email@example.com or call 510-763-2500 ext. 1.
The Spare the Air program was established by the Air District 10 years ago to educate people about air quality and to encourage them to change their habits to avoid or reduce air polluting activities. Motor vehicle use produces more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area region. To sign up for Spare the Air alerts visit www.sparetheair.org.
To reduce auto emissions on Spare the Air Days, people are encouraged to do any number of things including using alternative modes of transportation such as transit, carpools, biking and walking. Linking trips that require one trip for multiple errands and limiting travel to local destinations on Spare the Air Days helps minimize emissions.