What can small businesses and citizens do to improve air quality?

Daily activities, such as driving, refueling, lawn mowing, painting, and the use of pesticides and high-nitrogen fertilizers, emit ozone-forming and other pollutants. Frequently, consumer products (carpeting, furniture, paints, etc.) and the services we use (dry cleaning, lawn care, etc.) also emit ozone-forming pollutants into the air. With a population of more than six million in the region, the total of all the individual activities and products create a significant portion of Houston’s air pollution.

Small business and individuals can contribute to air quality improvement by making minor changes, such as:

  • driving for better fuel economy and fewer emissions during non-rush hour time periods
  • reducing unnecessary trips by planning ahead
  • using alternative commuting options like carpooling, vanpooling, public transit, cycling, walking, teleworking, and compressed work schedules
  • keeping vehicles in good repair through emissions testing, yearly tune-ups, routine oil changes and optimum tire pressure
  • becoming a knowledgeable consumer by making wiser purchases of products that pollute less
  • reducing use of solvents like oil-based paints, paint removers, caulk, cleaning solvents, and other materials that contain VOCs
  • reducing use of energy by turning off lights not in use, having proper insulation, using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, and using as little air conditioning as is reasonable and comfortable
  • upgrading vehicles and fleets to a model year with higher standards will help in emission reduction, and improve fuel mileage
  • reducing emissions from off-road sources like gasoline engines on lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, boats, and other equipment, which have minimal emission controls and are significant polluters
  • postponing polluting activities listed above on forecasted high ozone days

For more tips on how to help, go to http://takecareoftexas.org/air/air-quality.