Tag Archive for: 2019 Clear the Air Challenge

Clear the Air Challenge: What You Need to Know About Ozone

During times of air quality issues, many articles and social media posts will mention “ozone” as a factor. However, many people are uninformed about what ozone is and does, and how it can potentially affect their health. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and informed:

What is ozone?

Ozone, also referred to as O3 or simply ‘smog,’ is a pollutant of pale blue gas with a distinctive, pungent smell. The oxygen we breathe is made of two oxygen molecules, while ozone is made up of three oxygen molecules. However, ozone has different effects in different regions of the atmosphere. In the upper atmosphere (roughly 12-19 miles above ground), ozone is naturally occurring and even beneficial, serving as a shield against certain types of ultraviolet radiation. At ground level, ozone is created from human sources and contributes to air pollution. Ground level ozone can cause health problems like difficulty breathing, and long term, it can even act like a sunburn on the lungs.

Who is sensitive to ozone air pollution?

There are four main groups of people who are especially vulnerable to the effects of breathing ozone: children, older adults, people with preexisting lung or respiratory conditions, and those who work or exercise vigorously outdoors. These groups are at higher risk of becoming sick by exposure to ozone, and may experience reduced lung function, inflammation of the airways and other symptoms.

How can I check the air quality in my area?

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has an air quality forecast tool that helps  determine how the highest pollution level of the day will affect people with various health conditions. The action forecast also notifies the public of the voluntary or mandatory actions (e.g., carpooling, wood burning) they need to adhere to for the current pollution levels. You can even download the UtahAir app or sign up for email alerts to stay informed.

What can I do to reduce ozone air pollution?

Luckily, we are not powerless when it comes to managing air quality. By traveling smarter, individuals can reduce their emissions and thereby improve Utah’s air. During July, the Clear the Air Challenge is encouraging Utahns to reduce single-occupant trips and track the money and emissions saved by using the TravelWise Tracker. Already, participants have logged almost 400,000 miles of alternative travel strategies such as carpooling, public transportation and trip chaining. These measures also decrease ozone pollution on the ground level and keep our communities healthy.

For more information on Utah’s air quality or to check the ozone levels in your area, click here.

2019 Clear the Air Challenge Winners Announced

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (March 8, 2019) – The 10th annual Clear the Air Challenge wrapped up last week and the Salt Lake Chamber, along with its partners TravelWise and UCAIR, are excited to release the final results of the 2019 Clear the Air Challenge.

The Clear the Air Challenge is a month-long initiative that encourages Utah residents to drive less and drive smarter during the month of February. Participants help improve air quality by avoiding trips alone in their car and using alternative modes of transportation such as carpooling, taking public transit, walking, biking or trip chaining.

Fidelity Investments and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality were the top large and small teams, respectively.

“Environmental sustainability has long been a part of Fidelity’s commitment to our community – from our sustained efforts to reduce printing, to our fully-subsidized transportation passes to our LEED certified buildings,” said Carly Seely, Team Leader in Workplace Planning and Advice and head of the Fidelity Investments Sustainability Committee in Utah. “We’ve proudly accepted the past eight Clear the Air Challenges and in that time our employees have stopped an estimated 446 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering Utah’s air.”

For the second year, the Challenge was held in the month of February to draw attention to individuals and teams who make a difference to our air quality by creating new commuting habits and changing their individual behavior during a time when air quality is visibly at its worst.

“The Department of Environmental Quality and its employees have been cheerleaders and participants of the Clear the Air Challenge since it started in 2009,” said Donna Spangler, Communications Director for the department. “We know how important it is to ‘walk the talk,’ and the challenge allows us to improve air quality by taking small steps to drive less and drive smarter. If this challenge helps people see how simple it is to use transit, carpool and trip-chain, Utah’s air will be clean and healthy all year long.”

The Salt Lake Chamber set a goal this year to increase private sector involvement in the Challenge. “To see an increase in the number of businesses across the state getting involved with the Clear the Air Challenge this year was very encouraging. Utah businesses and their employees care about keeping our air clean and I commend the work of all participants in taking steps to improve the air we breathe and as a result, improve quality of life for all Utahns,” said Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

Collectively, this year’s participants eliminated 84,421 trips, saved 1,244,624 miles359.8 tons of CO2 and $0.4 million, and burned 1.6 million calories in just 28 days.

“As I often say, in our efforts to clear the air there are no perfect answers, but there are practical solutions,” said Thom Carter, Executive Director of UCAIR. “With the completion of the 10th annual Clear the Air Challenge, we are pleased with how our business community continues to rally together to help their employees find the practical solution that works for them. The continued success of this program further shows that working together to find solutions is what makes Utah special. UCAIR is proud to partner with the Salt Lake Chamber and TravelWise on the Challenge.”

Top Large Teams:
Fidelity Investments
University of Utah
Utah Transit Authority
Goldman Sachs
Weber State University

Top Small Teams:
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Weber-Morgan Health Department
Culinary Crafts
Dell EMC Utah

Top Participants:
Michael Bard, University of Utah
Meagan Price, Culinary Crafts
Clayton Price, Culinary Crafts
David Vasquez, Utah State Board of Education
Jessica Kent, University of Utah