Every year on April 22, New Yorkers everywhere celebrate Earth Day to raise awareness about the importance of environmental protection. Since its inception in 1970, there have been many positive actions taken as a result, including improved air quality.
The first Earth Day encouraged Congress to pass the landmark Clean Air Act the same year, which over decades has led to enormous reductions in all categories of air pollutants. Vehicles in the US today are almost 99 percent cleaner than those from the 1970s, with reduced carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate emissions. Vehicle fuels are also much cleaner after the elimination of lead in gasoline and reductions of sulfur levels in fuel, resulting in clearer skies and healthier children.
This Earth Day, pledge to improve your neighborhood’s air quality for the health of your loved ones and protect the environment from harmful pollution. Here are some tips to help you:
- Drive smart by combining trips and driving within the speed limit to conserve fuel. Choose clean transportation options, when possible.
- Keep your personal vehicle in excellent running condition, including maintaining proper tire pressure to maximize miles per gallon and reduce emissions.
- Plant trees and shrubs to absorb carbon dioxide, and flowers in your garden to enjoy the cleaner air with your family.
- Turn off lights and some appliances when not in use.
- Use electric lawn and garden equipment, if possible, to take advantage of NY’s clean energy grid.
- Be extra careful when refueling your power equipment to reduce spills and smog-forming volatile organic compounds.
- To reduce air toxics, use only unpainted, untreated wood in campfires and never burn trash.
- Practice air quality improvement ideas continuously and share them with your family and neighbors at gatherings and on social media.
Water Week in NYS begins May 9, but you can start protecting our water and air today. Help reduce the effects of fossil fuel emissions on our water by greening your commute and conserving energy. Don’t over fertilize your lawn this spring. Look for the “zero” to buy phosphorus-free fertilizer products. Follow sustainable lawn care practices to prevent HABs in nearby waterbodies. Check out DEC’s website for other ways you can help keep air pollution out of our water and air. While you’re there, you can also read up on HABs.
Photo at top: Left: A view of a busy NYC street corridor with buildings blotted out by heavy pollution, circa early 1970. Right: A view of a bustling NYC street corridor on a clear, sunny mid-summer day in 2017. Photo above: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are caused by an overabundance of nutrients such as nitrogen, causing toxic algal to grow out of control. This HAB occurred in NYC’s Central Park Lake in Manhattan. Bottom; When buying fertilizer look for the “zero” to prevent water pollution.