Share the air through motor vehicle pollution reduction

May 23, 2011

During the month of May, Garfield County Public Health, in partnership with the City of Aspen, Eagle County, Mesa County, Pitkin County, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are trying to give the public simple practical tips to improve the air in Western Colorado. The campaign is called “share the air.”

“The fact is there are so many small things that each of us can do. When we add these things up, it can really make a big difference,” said Jeanette Whitcomb, Environmental Health Program Coordinator with the City of Aspen. “As a partnership, we decided to focus on common regional air quality issues among communities who ‘share the air’ in major air sheds along the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. I would say that the single most important thing that we can do to cut down air pollution would be to reduce our motor vehicle emissions.”

Up to 70% of air pollution is caused by motor vehicles. According to the EPA, pollution from vehicles causes over half of the carbon monoxide, a third of nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons in our atmosphere. Whitcomb says that how you drive and take care of your vehicle has a large effect on your emissions levels and fuel economy. She recommends taking the following steps to clear the air.

Don’t let your car idle for more than one minute. Idling burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. The best way to warm up a car or pickup truck is to drive it.

  • Drive as little as possible, link errands, carpool, and use public transportation.
  • Try to avoid high speed driving and fast accelerations which increase fuel usage and emissions.
  • Fill up gas tanks in the morning or after 6 pm, and avoid spilling fuel and topping off tanks.
  • Park in the shade on hot days to minimize fuel evaporation.
  • Keep your engine well tuned and tires properly inflated.
  • Consider getting a set of low-rolling resistance tires to save gas mileage.
  • Try not to carry around extra weight in the car.

“Our partnership realizes that communities within Garfield County and across this region have identified and are managing a variety of their own localized air quality issues. These include those associated with industrial development,” said Garfield County Environmental Health Director Jim Rada. “Growth and development are projected to increase over the next several years and as advocates for environmental health, we’re committed to ongoing air quality improvement. We have been focusing our efforts on air quality monitoring and related research, air quality improvement projects, and a variety of education and outreach initiatives such as this particular project.”

The ‘share the air’ community partners hope they can provide the community with ideas for simple steps that people can take to reduce air pollution in the region. “Our goal as a department is to take a pro-active approach to air quality, and a big part of that is to get each person in the region to be more pro-active along with us. We can all play a role in preserving the elements of the environment that we value most,” said Rada.

For more information on how to improve the air in Western Colorado, call Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200.

Air Quality