Hot tips

Fight back during the smoggy season

This top-10 list is reprinted with permission from, a Web site of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

Yes, folks, the triple-digit dog days of summer are right around the corner. What better time for SN&R’s annual reminder (brought to you by the good folk at the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District) about what you, in particular, can do to help in the heroic effort to keep air pollution and smog to a minimum in the Sacramento region this summer! Our reversed-out top-10 list, drum roll please:

10. Do your garden chores gasoline-free. Avoid gas-powered yard tools such as mowers, blowers, edgers and trimmers—switch to electric-powered tools.

9. It’s OK to barbecue, but don’t use charcoal lighter fluid. Use an electric starter or chimney briquette starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid. Better yet, replace your charcoal grill with a propane-gas grill.

8. Avoid consumer spray products. These aerosol products include hairspray, furniture polish, cooking sprays, bathroom cleaners, air fresheners, antiperspirants, insecticides and hobby-craft sprays. Hair spray alone contributes 12 tons of pollution per day. When buying consumer products, choose solids, sticks and gels instead. They are more environmentally friendly.

7. Telework. Why commute at all if you can arrange to work from home? You’ll save commute time and expenses. Even if you do this just one day a week, you’ll be making a difference.

6. Link your trips. Cold engines pollute up to five times more than warm ones. A cold engine is one that has been sitting for over an hour. When possible, link all of your errands together into one trip to minimize “cold starts.” Postpone errands on a Spare The Air Day.

5. Refuel in the evening and never top off. Putting gas into your vehicle releases volatile organic compounds into the air. Throughout the day, these VOCs mix with oxides of nitrogen, “cook” in the summer sun and form ground-level ozone. Refueling in the evening decreases the opportunity for VOCs to create ozone.

4. Sign up for Air Alert—your free air-quality-notification via e-mail or cell phone. Air Alert gives you Spare The Air advisories for ground-level ozone or particulate matter when the Air Quality Index is expected to reach 127 or above, plus your choice of daily air-quality forecasts and current conditions at monitoring sites in the region.

3. Carpool or vanpool to work a few days, or even one day a week. Share a ride. Whether you’re driving to work, the gym, a baseball game or the park, find a carpool partner. Take turns driving and give yourselves a break from road-stress a few days a week. Call 511 or visit to sign up online.

2. Take public transit. Take transit and let someone else deal with the traffic. Treat yourself to a stress-free commute. Call 511 or visit for information on how local transit can get you where you’re going.

1. Drive less. Cars are the major source of air pollution in the Sacramento region. Can you get to your destination by walking, biking or public transit? If you leave your car at home one day a week, you prevent 55 pounds of pollution each year from being emitted into our air.