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What We can do to Reduce Ozone Precursors and Ozone Formation

There are many voluntary actions individuals can take to reduce ozone levels and prevent ozone precursors.  In addition, there are some planning suggestions that will help communities avoid adding ozone precursors.  These actions can help prevent exceedances of the federal health standards.

Picture of a push mowerAt Home

  • Conserve electricity and set your air conditioner at a higher temperature. Beware of power vampires! Many appliances use electricity even when they’re turned off. Anything with a remote control, external power supply (that cube-shaped thing on the electric plug), or a clock display is consuming energy. This can account for 10 percent of your home’s power consumption. Unplug these items or turn them off with a power strip.
  • Use household, workshop, and garden chemicals in ways that keep evaporation to a minimum, or try to delay using them when poor air quality is forecast.
  • Defer use of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment. Much of gardening and lawn care can be easily accomplished with manual or electrical equipment. When power equipment is needed, 4-cycle engines emit less pollution than 2-cycle engines.

On the Road

Picture of a fuel pump
  • Refuel cars and trucks after dusk. Be sure to avoid "topping off" your tank.
  • Combine errands and reduce trips-better yet, postpone errands.
  • Limit engine idling. Reduce engine wear, save fuel, and help reduce ozone precursors.
  • Choose a cleaner commute-share a ride to work or use public transportation. Bicycle or walk to errands when possible.

 At Work

  • Picture of a lunch boxTake a lunch to work.
  • Turn off lights and computers when you leave. Items left running waste energy and generate excess heat.
  • Encourage people to commute to and from work during non-peak travel hours.
  • Assign tasks that can be done during Ozone Alert Days that do not contribute to ozone formation.

For Your Health

  • On days when ozone levels rise into the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range of the Air Quality Index, cut back on or reschedule strenuous outside activities. Stay indoors in a well-ventilated or air-conditioned building. If you must be active outdoors, try to schedule activity before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
  • Promote land use planning practices that lead to a reduced dependence on automobiles.
  • Picture of person videoconferencingEncourage flexible work days at workplaces so employees can schedule transportation to avoid peak traffic hours.
  • Save both travel time and auto emissions by teleconferencing or videoconferencing. Consider positions that can be performed by telecommuting.
  • Outdoor activities that generate ozone precursors on ozone alert days should be performed, if feasible, either early in the morning or late in the day.
  • Consider tree planting and landscaping standards or ordinances. Establish minimum tree planting standards for new developments. Promote strategic tree planting along streets and in parking lots. Shade from trees helps cool buildings, parked vehicles, and pavement, reducing need for energy use.
  • Use native plants in landscaping. They require less mowing, watering and use of chemicals.
  • Picture of roads, car and fuel pumpActivities requiring lane closures on heavily traveled streets should not be scheduled during peak ozone season, and should not be conducted on ozone alert days. (Lane closures can contribute to traffic congestion, resulting in long lines of vehicles generating ozone precursors but not going anywhere.)
  • Left turn lanes and signals, rapid clearing of traffic accidents, and advance notice of construction detours improve traffic flow and avoid engine idling emissions.
  • Purchase low emission vehicles such as electric hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles. Reduce idling, link trips, and accelerate more slowly for greater fuel-efficiency.
  • Increase the number of services available by phone or electric media to reduce vehicle travel.
  • Practice exceptional vehicle maintenance. Proper maintenance can reduce fuel demand up to 15 percent with regular tune-ups, filter replacements, and engine diagnostics.

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