air quality – 511 Contra Costa

Sustain the Improved Air Quality We’re Enjoying

If the sky seems a little bluer these days, it’s not your imagination. With significantly fewer vehicles on the road, Bay Area air quality is better now than it was two months ago. If you’re enjoying the change in the air, there are many simple things you can do to help preserve our air quality gains, even after shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted and more cars return to the road.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) estimates there’s been a 70% drop in bridge traffic, which would correlate with a 26% drop in carbon dioxide emissions and a 20% reduction in fine particulates (PM2.5). The result? Cleaner air and clearer skies.

Similar air quality improvements have been seen in cities around the world. Los Angeles, famous for its smog, enjoyed its longest run of good air quality days since 1995. The Northeastern US experienced a 30% drop in air pollution in late March while China saw pollution levels fall nearly 40% between January and February. In Delhi, India, the persistent cloud of pollution (which can normally be seen from space) cleared away to be replaced by fresh air and blue skies.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) measurements from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite
Delhi, India, before and after the national lockdown

Although much of the Bay Area’s improved air quality can be attributed to eliminated commute trips, some of it is due to changes in local travel. Multiple vehicle trips are frequently being combined into single trips, and for short trips, many people have switched to walking or biking.

The uptick in cycling is so dramatic that bike shops nationwide are reporting record bike sales, and bike manufacturers are running out of inventory. In response to the increased numbers of walkers and cyclists, some cities—including San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda—have implemented Slow Streets programs, which limit vehicle through traffic on designated residential streets so people can travel easily while maintaining six feet of social distance.

A map of San Francisco’s Slow Streets program

As shelter-in-place restrictions are removed and people return to their commutes, some increase in tailpipe emissions is inevitable, but there are actions you can take on the road, at home, and at work to help preserve our improved air quality. The California Air Resources Board’s list of Simple Solutions to Reduce Air Pollution is a good resource for getting started. It includes many actions you can take, like working from home, limiting the amount of time your vehicle idles, and turning off lights when leaving a room.

Another easy way to start making air-sparing changes is by joining the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge. With actions divided into categories like Transportation, Renter Friendly, and Easy, you’ll find things you can do which fit your lifestyle and budget. For additional encouragement, be sure to join the 511 Contra Costa Community Group after creating your Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge profile.

For more ways to contribute to cleaner air and bluer skies, explore these resources:

Winter Spare the Air Season Has Begun (2015)

During the winter season, wood smoke is the largest source of harmful particulate pollution in the Bay Area. On a typical winter night, wood burning produces about one-third of the pollution in the air. From November 1 through the end of February, the Air District helps manage airborne pollution by calling Winter Spare the Air Alerts when the air quality is expected to be unhealthy.

Each day by early afternoon, the Air District will issue an air quality forecast for the next day. If a Winter Spare the Air Alert is called, it will be in effect the entire next day, for a full 24 hours. When an Alert is in effect, it is illegal to burn wood, manufactured fire logs, pellets, or any other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove or outdoor fire pit.
Residents can find information about the health effects of wood smoke, as well as detailed information about the Wood Burning Rule and how to comply with it on SpareTheAir.org’s website. You can also file a wood smoke complaint online.

2014 Winter Spare the Air Season Has Begun


During the winter season, wood smoke is the largest source of harmful particulate pollution in the Bay Area. On a typical winter night, wood burning produces about one-third of the pollution in the air. From November 1 through the end of February, the Air District helps manage airborne pollution by calling Winter Spare the Air Alerts when the air quality is expected to be unhealthy.
Each day by early afternoon, the Air District will issue an air quality forecast for the next day. The alert will be in effect the entire next day, for a full 24 hours. When a Winter Spare the Air Alert is in effect, it is illegal to burn wood, manufactured fire logs, pellets, or any other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove or outdoor fire pit.
Residents can find information about the health effects of wood smoke, as well as detailed information about the Wood Burning Rule and how to comply with it on SpareTheAir.org’s website. You can also file a wood smoke complaint online.

Bay Area Climate Protection Strategy Workshop (2014)

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District invites you to  a workshop on the Clean Air Plan and to initiate development of a Bay Area Climate Protection Strategy.
When: February 28, 2014, 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Where: Air District Office, 939 Ellis Street, San Francisco, 7th Floor
The purpose of the workshop is:

  • To kick off the planning process for updating the Clean Air Plan
  • To initiate the planning process to develop a Climate Protection Strategy for the Bay Area, which will be included as new element of the Clean Air Plan
  • To report progress on implementing the control measures in the 2010 Clean Air Plan
  • To solicit ideas and strategies to further reduce ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds), particulate matter, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gases
  • To seek input on innovative strategies to reduce greenhouse gases, mechanisms for tracking progress in reducing GHGs, and how the Air District may further support actions to reduce GHGs
  • To describe future steps and the overall schedule in developing the Clean Air Plan update and Bay Area Climate Protection Strategy

Contact: Christy Riviere at 415-749-4925 or criviere@baaqmd.gov
See the flyer for more information or visit: http://www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Planning-and-Research/Plans/Clean-Air-Plan-Update.aspx
The workshop will be webcasted LIVE on the above listed at  http://www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Planning-and-Research/Plans/Clean-Air-Plan-Update.aspx.  Take transit!  Civic Center BART station and MUNI lines 47, 49, 38  are  nearby.  Bike racks located onsite. More transit info at  www.511.org.

Great Race for Clean Air 2012

It’s back!
The Great Race for Clean Air is a friendly competition between Bay Area companies to encourage the use of commute alternatives such as transit, carpooling, vanpooling, walking and bicycling rather than driving alone to work to reduce greenhouse gases and smog levels in the Bay Area. Last year, 190 companies throughout the Bay Area saved 435 tons of CO2 by using commute alternatives.
Register your company to get started by August 31, 2012. Winning employers will be presented with trophies at a local Board of Supervisors meeting. Every participating employer will receive a certificate for participating. Take a look on how to sign up.

Your employees and co-workers can record their commutes online from September 1 to October 31, 2012. There will be weekly prize drawings for participants who record their commute. See how to log in your commute below.

Let the competition begin! Have fun and good luck!

Take a Deep Breath– Spare The Air Season Starts!

Tuesday, May 2nd, marked the beginning of Spare the Air season!
But what does this exactly mean?
Summertime is when smog becomes a major health problem here in the Bay and for the past 20 years the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, or  BAAQMD, has managed the Spare the Air program to “educate people about air pollution and to encourage them to change their behavior to improve air quality.”
LA Smog
A layer of smog over Los Angeles. Photo credit: G&R
Between now and through October we are all urged to cut back on polluting activities like driving, using aerosol sprays or gas powered lawn mowers. On days where air quality is particularly bad, there will be “Spare the Air” smog alerts issued; those sensitive to unhealthy air are encouraged to limit outdoor time these days.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to breathe healthy air, you needn’t just cut back on activities that cause pollution, you can embrace environmentally friendly ones to help make this a cleaner summer and spare our air!
When it comes to transportation, 511 Contra Costa offers plenty of resources to help change habits for a cleaner air: walking and bicycling, public transit, or carpooling.
You can also download iSmog, an iPhone app that will send push notifications when the air quality in your area is unhealthy. The app allows you to customize when you would like to receive alerts and is free to download.
You can even plan a fantastic vacation while sparing the air thanks to offMetro SF!
If you want to stay informed about local air quality, or get involved to improve conditions, be sure to check out Spare the Air.

When is idling wasteful?

Idling, or letting the engine run while the car is parked, is a  point of argument. How long is too long? At what point does the engine use more gas than if you just turned off the engine and restarted?
Families, couples, and friends go back and forth on this, with everyone quoting different statistics and numbers. Here’s the straight truth – idling uses more fuel than you think. The general rule of thought is that if you are are waiting more than 10 seconds it’s more cost effective and cleaner to turn off your engine and restart.
Here are three busted myths from the Hinkle Charitable Foundation, an environmental advocacy group.

Myth 1: Cars should run in an idling mode for several minutes before being driven.

Wrong. Modern engines do not need more than a few seconds of idling time before they can be driven safely. Moreover, the best way to warm up a car is to drive it, since that warms up the catalytic converter and other mechanical parts of the car, in addition to the engine.

Myth 2: Each time you start your car you waste more gasoline than if you let it idle.

Wrong. Automotive engines do not operate efficiently when they idle. Experts say there is a maximum 10 second break-even rule. If you are idling longer than 10 seconds, both you and the engine are better off if the engine is turned off and restarted.

Myth 3: Repeatedly restarting your car is hard on the engine and quickly drains the battery.

Wrong. Frequently restarting your engine does negligible damage to the engine and does not drain modern batteries excessively. In fact, the opposite is true; idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance.
Continue reading “When is idling wasteful?”

Tomorrow, Wednesday September 28th is a Spare the Air day

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert for tomorrow, Wednesday September 28th. Ground-level pollution, or smog, has been forecasted to be at unhealthy levels and Bay Area residents are encouraged to cut back on air pollution. If you are sensitive to unhealthy air, you are advised to minimize the amount of time you spend outdoors.
What are some ways you can spare the air?

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 20 and Wednesday, September 30, are Spare the Air days in the San Francisco Bay Area


Concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy tomorrow, Tuesday September 20th and Wednesday, September 21st. Hot temperatures and light winds will combine to produce poor air quality for the Bay Area.
To help prevent smog, please:

Visit https://511contracosta.org/ismog/ to download our FREE iSmog application for alert notifications and local air quality forecasts.

Today, Tuesday June 21, 2011 is a Spare the Air Day


Today is Spare the Air Day. When hot temperature and light winds combine to produce poor air quality for the Bay Area, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issues a Spare the Air Day alert. To help prevent smog, please consider:

More:

You Choose Contra Costa


How do you want Contra Costa County to look in the future? How do you want your neighborhood in Contra Costa County to look in the future? Are your ideas for the region compatible with your local vision?
That’s what the Silicon Valley Community Foundation hopes to answer with the new You Choose Bay Area tool.
Have you seen or played with any of those budget calculators that have been popping up through the recession? They let you pick from pre-determined options and show you what the overall result would be. This is pretty straightforward for a budget (it’s just adding and subtracting, right?). You Choose does the same thing, but with homes, roads, water, and air.
You start by picking your person priorities. Do you want the Bay Area to have lots of large home with big yards? Do you want to ensure we all conserve open space? Maybe you want to see safer access to schools? You can click and drag your priorities, and even rank them by their importance to you.
Next, it asks you to make two choices:

  • Do we focus new homes outside the current Bay Area, or
  • make our current neighborhoods more dense?

And:

  • How much more densely should we grow?

After you make your choices, you can see what impacts your growth strategy would have across the Bay Area. You can conserve up to 490 square miles of open space, 31 thousand tons of air pollution per year, and 26.1 billion miles of auto travel – all through how you design and locate homes. They almost make it look easy.
Plus, you can compare your priorities to your growth strategies. Do your plans for the region match up with your goals for your neighborhood?
Like what you see here?
Join the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Greenbelt Alliance, TransForm and the Bay Area’s regional planning agencies at YouChoose Contra Costa County.
Saturday, May 7, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle, Concord
At this public event, you can:

    Connect with fellow residents and together explore Bay Area housing and transportation options to see how they will impact your community and the things you care about most.

  • Give immediate input to local and regional leaders who will decide where to direct new development and how transportation dollars should be spent.

RSVP online. A meal will be provided, and childcare and translation services are available upon request.
“The choices being made will determine the future for generations to come. Will you make those choices or leave them to someone else?”

Yellow Clean Air Stickers – Expiring July 2011?

From: the California DMVVehicles that meet strict clean air requirements are given special white and yellow stickers and allowed to use carpool lanes on California’s freeways. Unfortunately, vehicles with the yellow stickers may find themselves stuck in traffic again soon.
The stickers represent different kinds of vehicle efficiency. To have a white sticker, a car must meet both California’s Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standard for exhaust emissions and the federal Inherently Low-Emission Vehicle (ILEV) evaporative emission standard. Yellow stickers are given to hybrid or alternative fuel cars that reach over 45 miles per gallon at highway speeds.
As we posted earlier, the yellow stickers for hybrids have already been extended once. Their new expiration date is fast approaching. After July 1, 2011, the yellow sticker program will end. The white sticker program will last a bit longer, through January 1, 2015.
Want to cling to the carpool lanes? This might be a good chance to explore casual carpool.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 is a Winter Spare the Air Day


Tomorrow, Thursday, January 6, 2011 has been declared a Winter Spare the Air Day for the Bay Area by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
To reduce your contribution to air pollution, please consider taking transit, telecommuting.
Wood burning is a major cause of wintertime particulate matter (PM) pollution in the Bay Area. The presence of fine particulate matter in the air is associated with:

  • Decreased lung function
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Lung damage
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Premature death in people with lung and heart disease

Continue reading “Thursday, January 6, 2011 is a Winter Spare the Air Day”

Spare the Air Day called for December 12, 2010


Tomorrow, Sunday December 12, 2010 has been declared a Winter Spare the Air Day for the Bay Area by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Wood burning is not allowed; second time violators could receive fines of $400.
Please consider reducing your contribution to air pollution by taking transit, ridesharing, and telecommuting.
From baaqmd.gov, here are 10 things you can do to reduce wood smoke pollution:

  • Give your fireplace or wood stove the night off.
  • Replace your fireplace or wood stove with a clean burning natural gas device.
  • Insulate your house to keep warmth in.
  • Save energy and reduce pollution by wearing a sweater on chilly nights.
  • Switch to an EPA-certified wood burning device or pellet stove, which emit up to 70% less PM.
  • Burn clean, hotter fires with plenty of air, in order to prevent visible smoke from a chimney or flue; smoke which indicates poor combustion so adjust dampers or fuel accordingly.
  • Never burn, painted wood, treated wood, particle board, plastics, wrapping paper or other garbage; burning them releases toxic chemicals.
  • Burn only dry hardwood fuel such as oak or cherry, which produces less smoke and burns hotter; never burn wet wood.
  • Store wood in a dry or covered area, off the ground to keep it from getting wet.
  • Keep your fireplace and stove well maintained to improve air flow and reduce emissions.

For more information, visit sparetheair.org.

Spare the Air Day called for December 1, 2010


Tomorrow has been declared a Winter Spare the Air Day for the Bay Area by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Wood burning is not allowed; second time violators could receive fines of $400.
Please consider reducing your contribution to air pollution by taking transit, ridesharing, and telecommuting.
From baaqmd.gov, here are 10 things you can do to reduce wood smoke pollution:

  • Give your fireplace or wood stove the night off.
  • Replace your fireplace or wood stove with a clean burning natural gas device.
  • Insulate your house to keep warmth in.
  • Save energy and reduce pollution by wearing a sweater on chilly nights.
  • Switch to an EPA-certified wood burning device or pellet stove, which emit up to 70% less PM.
  • Burn clean, hotter fires with plenty of air, in order to prevent visible smoke from a chimney or flue; smoke which indicates poor combustion so adjust dampers or fuel accordingly.
  • Never burn, painted wood, treated wood, particle board, plastics, wrapping paper or other garbage; burning them releases toxic chemicals.
  • Burn only dry hardwood fuel such as oak or cherry, which produces less smoke and burns hotter; never burn wet wood.
  • Store wood in a dry or covered area, off the ground to keep it from getting wet.
  • Keep your fireplace and stove well maintained to improve air flow and reduce emissions.

For more information, visit sparetheair.org.

Spare the Air alerts Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 1-3, 2010


Wednesday September 1st, is Spare the Air day in the Bay Area, as issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Update: Thursday, September 2nd and Friday, September 3rd will also have a Spare the Air alerts in effect.
Please consider:

For more information about air quality, visit our air quality page, download our free iSmog application for iPhone or visit Spare the Air.

Second Spare the Air Day Issued for Bay Area


Today, Tuesday August 24th, is a Spare the Air day in the Bay Area, making today the second smog day issued in two days by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. On summer Spare the Air days, ground-quality ozone–or smog–levels are expected to be unhealthy and residents are encouraged to cut back on activities that generate pollution. If you are sensitive to unhealthy air, please limit your time outdoors, especially during the afternoon hours.
For more information about air quality, visit our air quality page, download our free iSmog application for iPhone or visit Spare the Air.

Today is Spare the Air day in the San Francisco Bay Area


Today, Monday August 23rd is Spare the Air day.
Concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy today due to the combination of hot temperatures and light winds, resulting in poor air quality for the Bay Area.
To help prevent smog today, please:

To monitor current air quality conditions, visit our air quality page, download our free iSmog application for iPhone or visit Spare the Air.

Spare the Air Commuter Chronicles Contest – Win a $579 bike or Clipper card loaded with $100

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is searching for Bay Area residents to share their commuting stories in its Commuter Chronicles video contest. Tell them why and how you Spare the Air during your commute — whether you carpool, take public transit, telecommute, bike or walk to work or get even more creative. Help inform fellow commuters and you just might win:

For your chance to win, record a 60-second or less video showcasing how you help “Spare the Air” and submit it to the Spare the Air YouTube channel.
Continue reading “Spare the Air Commuter Chronicles Contest – Win a $579 bike or Clipper card loaded with $100”

Bay Area Gets $5 Million for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

SAN FRANCISCO – Last week, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) Board of Directors approved $5 million to support further development of a regional electric vehicle charging infrastructure program in the Bay Area.
Today, the Department of Energy announced the program is designed to make electric vehicle ownership a viable option for residents in the Bay Area. The EV charging stations and home chargers are part of BAAQMD’s Spare the Air program.

“The past several years have seen exciting progress in the development of electric vehicle technology,” said Air District Executive Officer Jack P. Broadbent. “Creating a useful charging network will make it easier for Bay Area residents to Spare the Air every day by going electric.”

The Air District is working to support at-home electric vehicle charging and to establish a network of accessible charging sites where electric vehicle owners can conveniently recharge while conducting their normal business, running errands or shopping.
The program will leverage up to $5 million in Air District funds to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure grants including:

  • 3,000 home chargers at single family and multi-family dwellings
  • 2,000 public chargers at employer and high-density parking areas
  • 50 fast chargers within close proximity to highways

In the Bay Area, the transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of air pollution. Significant emission reductions from the transportation sector will help the Bay area attain and maintain state and national air quality standards.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is the regional agency chartered with protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.
Download the 2010-08-04 BAAQMD News Release
More news on the web:

  • Bay Area to install over 5,000 EV charging stations – CNET, August 11, 2010
  • San Francisco Bay Area Gets $5 Million for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations – U.S. Department of Energy, August 11, 2010

Spare the Air Smog season begins for Bay Area (2010)

On Monday, May 3, 2010, Spare the Air announced the beginning of Smog season for the Bay Area. During the summer months, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will issue Spare the Air Smog Alerts when the air quality forecast is considered to be unhealthy.
For more information about air pollution in the Bay Area, visit the Spare the Air website at www.sparetheair.org. You can also get air quality information and Spare the Air alerts delivered to your mobile device by downloading our free iPhone application, iSmog.

This Week’s Headlines in Transportation & Transit: Apr. 24-30, 2010

Upcoming Events & Meetings

For more events, visit https://511contracosta.org/events/
Local News (Contra Costa County & East Bay)

Bay Area & California News

Extra, extra, read all about it!
Follow 511CC on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to receive additional updates and get the scoop on ongoing 511CC promotions. In the past, we’ve given away free coffee to bikers, free sunscreen, free BART tickets, half-off transit passes and more.
In addition, we choose one lucky Twitter follower and one Facebook fan to receive a $25 to Peet’s every month. Every month! That means you have multiple chances to win $25 in free cups of coffee, hot chocolate, lattes, mochas, iced teas, those always-enticing baked goods on display, or whatever your sweet heart desires.

This Week's Headlines in Transportation & Transit: Apr. 17-23, 2010

What’s the haps on transit news in and around Contra Costa County? Every Friday, we’ve got you covered with the most important news, both on and under the radar. Just click on each link for more deets.
Upcoming Events & Meetings

Local News (Contra Costa County & East Bay)

Bay Area & California News

2010 Clean Air Plan for the Bay Area released by BAAQMD

[Photo by Morgan Jones]

Think the Bay Area’s got good air? Think again. The nine Bay Area counties* currently fail to meet state and federal public health standards for smog, soot, and fine particles. These types of air pollution can irritate the eyes and throat, trigger asthma attacks, and increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
State law requires districts that fail to meet smog standards to create smog-cleanup plans. As a result, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) created a 520-page plan with 57 possible measures to clean the Bay Area’s air, targeting everyone from dairy farmers and wineries to oil refineries and homebuilders.
Continue reading “2010 Clean Air Plan for the Bay Area released by BAAQMD”