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  • TRP News: Are you breathing air this summer?

    Since April, PDEQ’s Clean Air Program issued at least six Air Quality Advisories for the air pollutant ground-level ozone. As of the time of this writing, three times this year, air quality in Pima County exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national health standards for this pollutant. 

    After one more exceedance, our region may officially violate the standard and be determined “non-attainment,” and that can lead to additional regulations that will affect businesses and transportation planning in our community.healthy air

    National standards set for criteria air pollutants protect public health. The health standard for ground-level ozone air pollution was strengthened in 2015 and set at 0.07 parts per million. Some people with sensitivity to this pollutant can even experience health effects at levels below the standard. Breathing ozone can cause throat irritation, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, breathing discomfort, and damage to the lungs.

    Ozone levels tend to be highest in the afternoon on hot, sunny days when wind is fairly still. It is a complicated pollutant that forms as a result of a photochemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides under specific meteorological conditions.

    To reduce exposure on days when ozone is elevated, individuals may want to limit outdoor exertion, especially in the afternoon. Find real-time air pollutant levels or sign up to receive air quality advisories and five-day air quality forecasts at www.pima.gov/deq.

    Ground-level ozone season goes from April to October. We cannot change the intensity of the summer sun. We cannot change the fact that we need to breathe clean air. We can change how we behave so we protect ourselves better and protect air quality. To help reduce ground-level ozone from forming, consider these tips:
    • Reduce driving – ride the bus, carpool, bike, walk or combine errands into one trip
    • Avoid idling vehicle engines for more than 10-seconds when possible
    • In the summer, refuel your vehicle after 6 p.m. as sunlight becomes less intense
    • Make sure your gas cap is tightly secured
    • Improve fuel efficiency by keeping proper tire pressure, avoiding jackrabbit starts and accelerating smoothly
    Healthy air is in our hands.

    : If you are not already using alternate modes, try it out for your work commute or other trips at least three times in one month during June, July or August. Trade single-occupied car trips to work – or to another destination – with a bus, bike, walk, carpool or vanpool. Join the Commute Trips & Tips Facebook group and write a sentence or two about your three alternate mode trips for a chance at prizes donated by the Pima County Wellness Program. Don’t do Facebook? Send your description directly to Karen.Wilhelmsen@pima.gov

    Reduced Emissions and Air Pollution – let’s REAP these rewards this summer!

    SummerGO Youth Pass

    The SummerGO Youth Pass is back and allows youth (Ages 6-18) unlimited rides on Sun Tran, Sun Link street car and select Sun Shuttle routes for the summer. Not only is transportation covered with the pass, it allows you to receive entrance into City of Tucson Pools and buy one admission get one free of equal or lesser value to the Flandrau Science and Planetarium Center. The SummerGO Youth Pass is good May 25th through August 2nd and is available for purchase for only $45. Visit suntran.com for full details. 

    Healthy Air “Drive-Less Pledge” Continues

    Take the pledge this quarter (July - September) and you could win $100 from PDEQ’s Clean Air Program. Pledge to use alternate modes (carpool, bus, bike, or walk) or skip trips in your motor vehicle for a chance at two $100 gift card prizes each quarter. Spread the word – this is open to all Pima County residents who are at least 18 years old.

    PAG Sun Rideshare 

    Refer a Friend and Win. When your friends register with Sun Rideshare and give your name, you will qualify for a $25 Walgreen’s gift card. The more friends who register, the more chances you have to win. You can also keep entering your alt mode trips in Sun Rideshare to keep track of the miles you didn’t drive, the money you saved, and tons of air pollution you reduced by choosing alternate mode trips.

    Free Emergency Ride Home

    If you bike, take transit, carpool, vanpool, or walk for your work commutes at least twice a week, you might be eligible for a free taxi ride in case of an emergency and you’re stuck without your personal vehicle. Click on PAG’s Guaranteed Ride Home Program for details.

    Alternate Mode News and Info: Listserves and Facebook Group

    Join the Commute Trips & Tips Facebook group or sign up to be on a listserve for occasional timely news about your alternate mode of choice. Contact: Karen.Wilhelmsen@pima.gov and mention which mode(s) you’re most interested in.  Visit the TRP intranet site for information and resources for your work commutes.
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