On the Road
- Combine errands or “trip chaining” – plan your route so that all your errands can be done in one trip with the least amount of stops and miles.
- Be sure to get your vehicle emissions tested on a regular basis. This is actually required for Lake and Porter county residents to license their vehicles.
- Reduce car idling – turn off your car engine while waiting for a train to pass. Park and walk into a restaurant or bank rather than wait in a long drive-through line. You’ll save time and fuel.
- Take your lunch to work, rather than driving out. Or send one car to pick up lunch for the office.
- Change the way you get to work – join or, better yet, start a carpool, check out the options for public transportation, and ask your employer about telecommuting.
- Try to fill your gas tank either early in the morning or later in the evening when it is typically cooler to reduce evaporation – and don’t top it off.
- Get regular engine tune-ups and keep the right amount of air in the tires. Well-maintained vehicles create less pollution.
- Take your lunch to work to reduce lunchtime trips.
- Join NWI Clean Air to get more information about ways you can think green so we all breathe easy.
Around the House
- Mow your lawn after 7 p.m.
- Avoid using boats, motorcycles, and other small engine vehicles on hot, sunny days.
- Conserve energy in your home, which improves air quality by reducing energy needs from power plants; turn off appliances and lights when not in use.
- Keep household paints, solvents, and pesticides in air-tight containers.
- Properly recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and cardboard.
- Reuse materials like paper bags and boxes.
- Plant deciduous trees around your house to provide shade in the summer and to allow light in the winter.
- When you barbeque, use a charcoal chimney or electric starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid.
- Use only water-based paints and solvents.
- Do not burn leaves and other yard waste.
Air Quality & Your Health
You most likely know someone, if not yourself, that is affected by some form of lung disease. Across the three counties of Northwest Indiana, recent studies from the American Lung Association show that:
- 9% of adults suffer from asthma
- 4% live with chronic bronchitis
- 38% have a form of cardio-vascular disease
- 10% of the children in Lake and LaPorte counties struggle with pediatric asthma
The number of adults with asthma is nearly that of adults with diabetes. Consider how diabetics make adjustments to their diet in order to be as healthy as possible. Everyone can make adjustments to improve air quality for those who live with asthma and other lung diseases.
Ozone Action Days – Know Your Colors
The air quality index (AQI) is a measurement of daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. From colors that range from Green (Good) to Maroon (Hazardous), it’s a good idea to check the AQI before planning outdoor activities.
Unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone can impact the health of family members and coworkers – especially children, the elderly, and individuals with heart or lung ailments.
The air quality index can help you understand the impact of air quality:
- Green = Good
- Yellow = Moderate: unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion
- Orange = Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: active children and adults and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
- Red = Unhealthy: active children and adults and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
- Purple = Very Unhealthy: active children and adults and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
- Maroon = This would trigger a health warning and emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
- Ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as smog, is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight.
- Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOX and VOC.
- Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.
- Ground-level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
- Sensitive groups, such as children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung problems are especially at-risk.
Think Green. Breathe Easy.
Perhaps you have been thinking "green" for a while by recycling and getting your cars emissions tested. Making some relatively small changes in your habits to think green will help improve the air quality of Northwest Indiana. These habits might also help you in "green" ways by saving you money. And they will certainly help all of us to breathe easier.
What you can do (click the bullets below to see more information):