It’s that time again – time for California Clean Air Day!
Founded and organized by the Coalition for Clean Air, the annual Clean Air Day event is meant to inspire thousands to take a pledge to do their part to help improve the air around the world. But due to COVID-19 (a serious disease, often fatal, that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus), Clean Air Day’s going to be a bit different this year.
Normally, thousands of people, companies, and community organizations plan and gather for a series of some of the world’s biggest air quality events during the month of October.
For example, in 2019, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) made all their public transport free for the entire day, and the Sacramento Tree Foundation led volunteers in the planting of hundreds of new trees. The necessity for social distancing presents a unique challenge for such events this year.
2020 Air quality highlights
Air quality has had highs and lows in 2020. This helps to illustrate how important it is to take action to help improve air quality throughout the world.
For example, in March 2020, several major cities around the world experienced some of their best air quality in decades due toshutdowns related to COVID-19.In Delhi, India, PM2.5(particulate matter with a diameter size of 2.5 microns or smaller) levels dropped 60%, and Seoul, South Korea saw an enormous 54% drop in PM2.5.
Yet the air quality story didn’t end there – many cities soon started to experience dangerous levels of air quality again mere months later.
During Independence Day celebrations on July 4th and 5th, the United States experienced some of the world’s worst air quality due to widespread local fireworks air pollution – some cities saw spikes in PM2.5 levels of over 900% compared to the days leading up to the holiday.
These events in world air quality show that much work still must be done to improve air quality for good. Slowdowns in economic activity have only brought temporary relief from PM2.5 and other toxic pollutants that continue to come from some of the world’s biggest polluters.
Take the Clean Air Pledge
Clean Air Day is a global event – but it starts with people like you. So here’s what you can do for Clean Air Day this year.
Start by taking the Clean Air Pledge. There’s a lot you can do in your daily life to help reduce air pollution – from little things like changing your home air filter to big things like buying a hybrid or electric car.
Go to the official Clean Air Day pledge site to commit within your means to help clear the air.
Just fill out the checklists to switch to more sustainable habits to reduce fuel emissions, plant something to help the air, or change your driving behavior to lower how much vehicle emissions you produce. Every little thing helps!
Here are some ideas to get you started thinking about what you can do:
- Make only one trip a week to the grocery store or to run errands to reduce emissions from travel
- Buy local produce to support your local economy and reduce emissions from shipping
- Change your home air filter
- Use an air quality monitor to check air pollution levels both indoors and outdoors
- Buy a plant for your home or plant a garden in your yard
- Walk or bike to work, to run local errands, or just to get exercise instead of driving
- Bring your lunch to work instead of going out to eat to reduce travel emissions
- Don’t keep your car engine idling when you’re not driving
- Replace your gas-powered car to a hybrid, electric, or hydrogen-powered vehicle
Keeping our air clean starts with little decisions that we make every day – and if we all do our part, billions of us together can slowly but surely empower the world to breathe cleaner air.