Don your walking shoes and pull out your rake for Clean Air Day

As part of Canadian Environment Week, Clean Air Day takes place on Wednesday, June 6.

As part of Canadian Environment Week, Clean Air Day on Wednesday, June 6 raises awareness and encourages action on clean air and climate change issues.

When you use public transit, walk, or use your rake instead of the leaf blower you can reduce your personal emissions, save money on fuel, contribute to your personal health and a better quality of life for everyone.

A major contributor of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions is the transportation sector. Studies have linked pollution from vehicles to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, and asthma as well as contributing to global warming. Children are more vulnerable than adults to health impairments from air pollution like asthma and other respiratory illnesses because children breathe faster, inhale more air per kilogram body weight and have developing organs and tissues. Since there are no safe levels of air pollution, it is important that as a community we adopt the principle of continuous improvement. There are many simple ways that you can contribute to good air quality.

Alternative transportation — instead of driving to work alone, try one of these alternatives:

• Walk, run, ride your bike or rollerblade

• Carpool

• Use public transit

Air-friendly driving tips — if you must drive, these tips can help you reduce emissions, fuel consumption and save money:

• Plan your trips and combine errands; cut down on unnecessary journeys.

• Avoid idling. More than 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine and reduces engine life by up to 20 per cent. Compared to a moving vehicle it releases twice as many exhaust fumes; air that even the driver and his/her occupants have to breathe.

• Practice safe non-aggressive driving. Drive in the highest gear possible. Maintain a constant speed, use cruise control.

• Use air conditioning sparingly; use in stop-go traffic increases fuel consumption by as much as 20 per cent.

• Keep your vehicle well maintained, especially tire pressure.

Yard and garden care — emissions from lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and outdoor gas powered equipment pollute the air in your yard and your neighborhood. A gas-powered lawn mower emits as much pollution in one hour as driving a newer car 225 kilometres.

• Switch to manual or electric tools; choose four- over two-stroke engines.

• Chip materials and use as mulch, or compost yard and garden waste rather than burn, as this creates noxious chemicals. Take grass, leaves and shrubs to the Central Cariboo Transfer Station.

• Plant native trees. Plants clean the air by removing carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Trees can help shade your house and lower the cost of air conditioning.

We all share the air — do your part.

Submitted by the Williams Lake Environmental Society and Air Quality Round Table. Check the local air quality and get more info at www.breatheasywilliamslake.org.