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Air Quality Action Days

The Air Quality Action Days program is a public outreach initiative of Clean Air Partners, a collaboration of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. The program encourages voluntary actions that reduce the amount of ozone-causing pollutants, especially on "Code Red" and "Code Purple" days when weather conditions are favorable for ozone formation. These are generally hot (90+ degrees), sunny days with little or no wind and no precipitation. Because heat and sunlight are important factors in ground-level ozone formation, ozone pollution is worse during the months of April through October.

Employers and their employees can play an important role in improving the region’s air quality by becoming Air Quality Action participants and starting a work-place program. Participants of the work-place program receive email alerts during the afternoons before each Air Quality Action Day and tips and information on how to alleviate air pollutions, especially during the worst days.

In addition to becoming an Air Quality participant, employers can do many things to improve the region’s air, including the following:

  • Defer cleaning with volatile solvents until late in the day. When possible, use non-volatile and non-hazardous cleaners.
  • Schedule structural painting for days when ozone smog is not expected to reach unhealthy levels.
  • Postpone lawn mowing and other activities that use gasoline-powered equipment until a cooler day, or use electric equipment.
  • Defer high-emission or batch production activities until evening shifts.
  • Schedule low-emission operations on Air Quality Action Days whenever possible.
  • Make water-based paints, stains and sealers your first choice. When using oil-based coatings, ask for low VOC products.

Employers can encourage their employees to participate in improving the region’s air quality through some of the following suggestions:

  • Since motor vehicle emissions Car exhaust with fumesare the biggest contributor to air pollution, discourage single-occupant motor vehicle travel, especially on Code Red Days, by establishing a commuter benefits program. 
  • Encourage the use of transit, carpools, vanpools, telework, and other alternatives.
  • Offer employee incentives to use alternatives.
  • Offer incentives for employees to eat at the work site on Code Red Days, such as brown-bag seminars or business-sponsored lunches.
  • Refuel business vehicles after sunset or not at all on Code Red Days.
  • Promote teleconferencing instead of driving to meetings. Offer conference call options for all meetings.
  • Post Air Quality Action Days information on internal web sites and in company newsletters.
  • Send out e-mail notifications and reminders. Display posters and flyers in high-traffic areas within your office.
  • Include information packets on Air Quality Action Days with paychecks or new-hire packets.