Air Quality Awareness Week – 2016 (3): A retrospective, prospective

An entire week’s worth of air recognition – that’s what Air Quality Awareness Week boils down to – albeit a five-day week. How will I recognize this time to spare the air? Let me count the ways.

320px-Cal-Poly-Dexter-Lawn[1]Way no. 1: I pledge to not drive unless required.

Way no. 2: I pledge to spend as little time using the computer as possible. It also means using battery power as power-supply power when the computer is in use.

Way no. 3: I pledge to keep lights turned off if there is no need for such. If lights are needed, then only those fixtures equipped with compact fluorescent lights or fluorescent light tubes will be used.

Way no. 4: I pledge to perform work of a manual nature if any around-the-house-work outside needs doing. If power tools and equipment are called for, then only those operating using rechargeable batteries will be employed.

And, in keeping Way no. 4 in mind, this is what today’s retrospective comma prospective discussion is about.

At home outdoors

Using my own yard as an example, if nothing needs attention, I will wait until such time that it does before doing what needs to be done in the yard-work department. Simple, right? To put things in context, you should know that today’s high temperature is forecast to be 88 degrees (I doubt the temp. will get this high) and the air quality is supposed to be in the moderate range – an Air Quality Index also in the 80’s (what is forecast for Fresno County).

Forecast for Thursday and/or Friday are showers, which means afterwards, air quality here should be much improved and temperatures should be lower. As such, any yard work needed, I firmly believe, can wait till then. To me, it just makes sense to do yard work this way.

In fact, this routine – and my preference for doing yard work this way – will be maintained throughout the entire warm-weather season. Why? It is due to the propensity for the San Joaquin Valley in California at this time of the year to form ozone.

Human_respiratory_system-NIH[1] (340x226)Ozone precursors like oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight and heat (which in the Valley is typically in abundant supply now through September into October) combine to form ozone – what many refer to as smog. This gas is corrosive on the lungs and can trigger asthma attacks and can lead to more serious and/or debilitating lung conditions and diseases. So, applying some common-sense practices related to this, well, this seems wise.

Moreover, if the concentration of ozone in the area is such that an air pollution alert is issued, then perhaps foregoing all outdoor activities completely should be the order of the day, for sensitive individuals especially, these being the elderly, children and people with existing lung and respiratory conditions.

Other applied ideas could be in terms of limiting the amount of time the motor vehicle engine idles (if of the internal-combustion type) when first starting the car in preparation for leaving for work or in heading to the market for shopping, for example.

Looking forward, in your neck of the woods this week might be the time to plant trees that will eventually grow tall enough to shade the home from the summer sun and this could cut down on or help lower future energy bills.

What is more, trees can help with absorbing carbon dioxide from the air – maybe not much in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit helps. And, still, another idea might be to limit outdoor exercise to the early mornings or evenings where there is less opportunity and likelihood for the formation of ozone, particularly in places that are prone to ozone’s presence. In fact, it may be what the doctor orders.

Furthermore, an on-the-yard composting operation could mean less matter going to landfills and that could mean less in the way of landfill-produced methane gas or the opportunity for the creation of such could be less. All of which has implications for improved air quality.

Being air-quality smart, especially during Air Quality Awareness Week, could anything be more right?!

Up next (Part 4), air quality awareness at work; that is, in the workplace.

Upper image above: Gregg Erickson

Lower image above: U.S. National Institutes of Health: Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

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