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On July 4th, approximately 150,000 spectators will flock to the streets of Atlanta and raise their Solo cups as a toast to one of the most popular 10K races in the South. A city-wide tradition, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race offers 60,000 participants the chance to display their patriotism—without using a car.

The vehicle-free path, stretching all the way from Buckhead near Lenox Mall down to Piedmont Park, would be a dream come true for any commuter traveling the same route to and from work. In fact, the average cost of gas in metro Atlanta is $3.49/gallon and, according to the 2013 Texas Transportation Institute Urban Mobility Study, commuters collectively waste 63.5 million gallons of fuel while sitting idle in traffic.

Participants in the Peachtree Road Race may view walking as the perfect way to maintain fuel during the climb up “Cardiac Hill.” However, walking isn’t always the best solution for the commuter stuck in traffic. After all, the average round trip commute distance in metro Atlanta is 35 miles. The Georgia Commute Options programs make it possible for commuters to find carpool and vanpool partners, plan transit trips, and determine the cost savings of sharing the ride into work.

So how does a 6.2 mile race illustrate the benefits of making the switch to a commute alternative? According to the Commute Calculator, a commuter traveling 12.4 miles round trip for work pays an estimated $1,520 annually by driving alone. Making the change from driving alone to carpooling saves the commuter an estimated $380 each year.

Removing vehicles from the road not only cuts down on traffic congestion, but it also improves our air quality. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, half of all smog-forming emissions in the region come from the tailpipes of cars and trucks. An easy equation to remember is that 1 mile driven = 1 pound of pollution. So, the 60,000 athletes choosing to walk/run a 6.2 mile stretch collectively prevent 372,000 pounds of pollution from being emitted into the air. With results like these, change can only mean a good thing.

Even the Peachtree Road Race has undergone significant change since the first group of 110 participants crossed the finish line back in 1970. Sponsored by Carling Brewery, the race originally started at the old Sears building and made its way down to Central City Park—now known as Woodruff Park. Without significant change, the Peachtree Road Race would have never earned the title as largest 10K in the world.

As Employer Program Manager with The Clean Air Campaign, Sadler Croft helps North Fulton businesses develop commute options programs for their employees. Outside of work, Sadler dedicates time to Junior League of Atlanta and supporting the arts through Atlanta Symphony Associates. You can also find her lost in the pages of a good story or brushing up on her Arabic skills.



As the days grow longer and warmer, those across metro Atlanta recognize the arrival of summer. However, hand-in-hand with the bathing suits and barbeques is the likelihood of thick smog that settles over the city. While the early results show a forgiving start to spring and summer, air quality can change when temperatures rise and mix the sunlight and heat with vehicle exhaust emissions.

Smog is a mixture of air pollutants that are harmful to environmental and human health. In Georgia, two pollutants that present challenges are ground-level ozone and particle pollution. Not everyone is equally as susceptible to the negative effects of poor air quality, but it is important to understand who is at risk.

Luckily, The Clean Air Campaign is here to help! Expert forecasters issue Smog Alert advisories on days when the concentrations of air pollution are expected to reach unhealthy levels. Below is a guide about how to understand smog alerts:

Air pollution is not just an issue for metro Atlanta residents wishing to cycle The Beltline or picnic in Piedmont Park, but for other species around the world as well. An article published by The Independent, discusses how greenhouse gasses are turning Arctic seawater toxic for many species of marine life. Although it is hard to imagine life in the Arctic Ocean when temperatures are soaring here in Georgia, it is helpful to remember that poor air quality affects us all, and the more we learn about how pollution can affect the air we breathe, the more pressing the need to act.

For more information about air quality watch this video created by The Clean Air Campaign.

Sarah Wilgus is a Commuter Services Coordinator at The Clean Air Campaign. As a MARTA rider, she uses her commute time to listen to “Spotify” and catch up on social networking.



So Far, So Green: Cooler ATL Spring Temps Yield Relief from Air Pollution
No two years are identical when it comes to measuring the quality of the air we all breathe. And if it feels like metro Atlanta has experienced a cooler/wetter start to spring in 2013, here’s some data to back it up. Rainfall totals for April 2013 in ATL were twice that of April 2012. And a closer look inside the numbers for air quality shows that the past two months have been somewhat gentler on our lungs compared to the same period in 2012. The ratio of Code Green to Code Yellow observed days for ground-level ozone during April and May 2013 sits at around 2:1, while last year was flipped around with more than twice as many Code Yellow observances as Code Green. Here’s hoping that air quality remains healthy as summer beckons.

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In Pictures: Vanpoolooza Party at Cumberland
From May through August, the Atlanta region is celebrating Vanpoolooza, expressing the joys of riding stress-free to work in a vanpool. Ask most vanpool riders and they will describe their good times together as a party on wheels. And with more than commuter 400 vans on the road across Georgia, there is a strong vanpool presence in the Peach State … with lots more room to grow. That was the message to guests at an open house event in the Cumberland area. The proof is in the pictures that a good time was had by all.

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BBQ Ban: Beijing Policymakers Propose Ban on Grilling to Help Air Quality
This would not go over well in America as we head into Memorial Day Weekend. According to this article, in a desperate move to beat back smog that has gripped Beijing off and on for many months, policymakers are looking at stricter permitting for outdoor barbecue stands to reduce fine particle pollution. The sentiment from some in China suggests that when it comes to air pollution, there are bigger fish to fry … or rather, grill … like cars and trucks. Perhaps the George Foreman Grill - which is shown on a number of online retailers as being manufactured in China - would be an acceptable substitute?

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Out and About: Springtime Brings Outdoor Fun to Belt Line Eastside Trail
Determined to recapture some modicum of physical fitness, this intrepid blogger recently joined a few colleagues for a bike tour along the newly-opened Belt Line Eastside Trail. The ride was great and the sights amazing, as this signature project continues to develop faster than many of us may realize. From the skateboarders tearing it up at Historic Fourth Ward Park to the moms out for a stroll with their babies, it’s clear that the Belt Line offers a great excuse for anybody to be outside. And as this video shows - from the perspective of a colleague’s handlebar-mounted video camera - you never know what neat things you might encounter as you’re navigating the trail.

 

Merge.

Brian Carr is Director of Communications at The Clean Air Campaign, one of several organizations in the Atlanta region that deliver Georgia Commute Options programs and services in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation. A daily MARTA rail rider, Brian uses his morning commute time on the Blue Line to read about current events and play "Words with Friends."



As Air Quality Awareness Week 2013 comes to a close, The Clean Air Campaign explores current events surrounding the air we breathe from the perspective of the American Lung Association, an ally with a presence in Georgia that publishes an annual report on air quality.  In case you missed it, both organizations participated in a webinar about air quality, which you can replay here.

Thanks to the Clean Air Act, the United States continues to make progress providing healthier air. The State of the Air 2013 shows that the nation’s air quality is over¬all much cleaner, especially compared to just a decade ago. Still, over 131.8 million people—42 percent of the nation— live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe. Despite that risk, some seek to weaken the Clean Air Act, the public health law that has driven the cuts in pollution since 1970.

The State of the Air 2013 report looks at levels of ozone and particle pollution found in official monitoring sites across the United States in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The report uses the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for these analyses.

Thanks to stronger standards for pollutants and for the sources of pollution, the United States has seen continued reduction in ozone and particle pollution as well as other pollutants for decades. Since 1970, the air has gotten cleaner while the population, the economy, energy use and miles driven increased greatly.

Georgia has several cities/counties with unhealthy levels of pollution. Key “State of the Air 2013” findings for Georgia include:

  • The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville area dropped out of the Top 25 Most Polluted Cities for ozone, ranking 28th in the nation.
  • The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area also saw slightly higher year-round levels of particle pollution and tied for 18th for most polluted in the nation (worse than last year’s ranking of 24th).
  • Brunswick and Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart were recognized as having no unhealthy days of ozone pollution.
  • Macon-Warner Robbins-Fort Valley tied for 14th for most polluted city in the nation for annual particle pollution.
  • Seven of the reporting counties received an “A” for short-term particle pollution, meaning no days of unhealthy levels of particle pollution.

The Clean Air Act calls for a review of research every five years to ensure that our standards for breathable air are safe. Sulfur levels in gasoline and cleaner vehicles are currently under review by the Environmental Protection Administration. Since half of metro Atlanta’s air pollution comes from vehicle emissions, cleaner gas and cleaner cars could make a big difference in the air we breathe.

The American Lung Association urges everyone to join the fight for clean air and to learn how to protect themselves and their families from air pollution by visiting www.stateoftheair.org.

June Deen is state director for the American Lung Association in Georgia, which is now in its second century as the leading organization in the state that is "Fighting for Air" and working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.  June has played an instrumental role in advocacy work for many years in the state, giving Georgians a voice in the conversation about smoking issues, asthma, air pollution and public health.

The views and opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Clean Air Campaign.



Air Quality Awareness Week (April 29-May 3) is a perfect time to learn more about our region's air quality issues and what you can do to help the air we all breathe.

 

For more information, visit www.CleanAirCampaign.org/Your-Air-Quality-Transportation.



Hello, Clean Air Community!

When asked to be a part of this project, I was absolutely ecstatic, and I knew that I could use this to talk about an air quality problem that is near and dear to my heart: idling on school campuses.

I go to a large, inner-city school in Atlanta, and just about every day, while waiting for whatever after-school activity I’m doing that day to begin, I see every sort of vehicle known to man just sitting in our three separate parking lots running.

Now why do I bring this up, you ask? Cars and trucks full of teenagers and parents are at the root cause of high concentrations of air pollution around school campuses. A recent study conducted by graduate researchers at Yale University has shown that those who are regularly exposed to extreme levels of exhaust fuel that are directly related to idling vehicles develop moderate to severe asthma or other respiratory issues. These fumes accumulate at the ground level and enter both the passenger compartments of the other vehicles and even school classrooms through ventilation systems. These exhaust fumes constitute a serious health risk to children and young adults because we breathe more air relative to our body weight and our respiratory systems are still developing.

When I first read the study, I was horrified, yet unsurprised that idling vehicles outside of my school were negatively affecting my breathing air inside and out. As a Varsity soccer player, I spend a lot of time in and around school with my team. Due the built up fumes in the parking lot, my team has found that while practicing many of us with asthma have in fact been forced to sit out from breathing difficulties at least once this season.

After taking a poll of my teammates about whether they thought exhaust fumes from the parking lot negatively affected their performance on the soccer pitch, over half of the team answered with a resounding yes! I have since then begun talks with my principal about how my school community can become a part a “No Idling Campaign,” in hopes of reducing levels of diesel fuel emissions around our area.

For more information about how you and your community can also implement a program like this one, please click here.

Peyton Sammons, a 17 year old rising Senior, is a regular student blogger for The Clean Air Campaign's OnAir blog.  She loves spending time with friends, reading, writing, and volunteering throughout her community in multiple outreach programs. She is currently an International Baccalaureate student at North Atlanta High School. 



Air Quality Awareness Week, occurring April 29-May 3, 2013, gives Georgia employers, commuters, and schools reason to celebrate the milestones we've accomplished for cleaner air...and remember the items that remain on our to-do list for a better Georgia. This photo with Governor Nathan Deal was taken at the proclamation signing.

Front row (pictured from left to right): Stephanie Zhu, Program Manager, Delta Air Lines; Lauren Rolader, Student, Tucker Middle School; MiKayla Wiseman, Student, Tucker Middle School; Nathan Deal, Governor, State of Georgia; Peyton Sammons, OnAir Blogger and Student, North Atlanta High School; Tedra Cheatham, Executive Director, The Clean Air Campaign. Back row (pictured from left to right): Eric Cox, Director of Contract Services, American Coach; Bradley Kodesh, LTD Team Leader- Group Benefit Claims, The Hartford; Lesley Carter, Schools Communication Manager, The Clean Air Campaign; Ashley Bejger, Environmental Engineer, Lockheed Martin; Ricky Martin, Service Manager, Gwinnett County Government; Howard Mindel, Clean Air Commuter Champion

Thanks to a smart combination to regulatory control measures put in place over the past decade and the voluntary actions that have helped bring more commuters to use alternatives to driving alone, the quality of the air we breathe is improving in Georgia. It's what we choose to do next that will influence the air we breathe in the years ahead. There's more work to be done for cleaner air...and we are grateful that more than 1,600 Georgia employers, tens of thousands of commuters and over 350 schools made the choice to improve the air we all breathe. Happy Air Quality Awareness Week!



Happy Earth Week! What began as a single day in 1970 to raise awareness for environmental activism has become a season of events observed around the world by more than a billion people, according to Earth Day Network. What’s happening around the Peach State during this season of encouraging environmental good? Lots. Take a quick tour as Merging Lanes ventures out to find the best examples of green leadership.

Statesboro: Georgia Southern Convenes Panel for Dialog on Energy Issues
Applauded by the Princeton Review for its sustainability programs on campus, GSU recently announced the passage of a vote by students to take on a $10 fee for development of sustainability projects. The scope of victory? Some 75% of students voted yes, and the measure was then approved by the Board of Regents. GSU’s Center for Sustainability convened a panel on Earth Day featuring US Congressman John Barrow (GA-12), along with representatives from Georgia Power, The Clean Air Campaign and renewable energy firms based in Georgia. The discussion at hand was about Georgia’s energy future, with population growth on its way and increased interest in diversifying where energy comes from. According to Congressman Barrow, the “next big thing” in renewable energy at a national level of impact will require a big R&D commitment. Students in attendance also got a better picture of bio-fuel projects and natural gas initiatives that continue to gain traction here, as well as a call to action that their choices – both as consumers and leaders – will shape the future of energy in Georgia.

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Carrollton: Keep Carroll Beautiful Considers a Greener Future
Keep Carroll Beautiful, a non-profit, hosted an air quality presentation from The Clean Air Campaign on Earth Day to help area employers, civic leaders and residents make the connection between transportation and the environment, pointing to commuting patterns that shape the region and the actions that can help reduce air pollution. In conjunction with the Great American Cleanup, Keep Carroll Beautiful was chosen as one of 10 affiliated organizations in the US to receive a grant that was used to put on the event. The big takeaway from the discussion? Air quality in Georgia is improving, but there’s always more work to do.

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North Atlanta: Clean Air Schools Mascot “BAIR” Boogies with Captain Planet
The Chattahoochee Nature Center lined up a star-studded cast of mascots for its Earth Day celebration, involving educational programming for children and families about sustainability. Check out BAIR’s dance moves here:

 Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Up Next: Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia – April 29 through May 3
Watch for news in this space next week about a perennial activity that reinforces what The Clean Air Campaign is all about. Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia takes place April 29 – May 3, with lots of discussion from every angle about the air we breathe and meaningful ways to get involved. Start by signing up for a special webinar next week about air quality, featuring insight from Clean Air Campaign executive director Tedra Cheatham and American Lung Association in Georgia state director June Deen. This webinar takes place Thursday, May 2 from 11am to noon. Register and hear about current trends influencing air quality, plus actionable ideas to fold into your lifestyle for better breathing.

Merge.

Brian Carr is Director of Communications at The Clean Air Campaign, one of several organizations in the Atlanta region that deliver Georgia Commute Options programs and services in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation. A daily MARTA rail rider, Brian uses his morning commute time on the Blue Line to read about current events and play "Words with Friends."



I’ve been a part of The Clean Air Campaign for eight years this August (and yes, time DOES fly when you’re having fun!). Over my years here, I’ve assisted with employer services and events, and am currently an Employer Program Manager for the State of Georgia agencies and the I-75 South region.

During any given day, I could be giving a presentation to multiple organizations on the importance of clean commuting to work as a means of reducing traffic and improving air quality. I could be counting commuters in a parking lot near you or rewarding a commuter for keeping 50,000 pounds of pollution out of the air. Like my co-workers, I spend my days trying to encourage Georgians to see the benefits of ridesharing and teleworking, joining a vanpool or walking to and from work in effort to make a difference.

Then, after the day is done, I go home. Like a lot of us, I take off my work hat, and put on my parent one. Little did I know that my work at The Clean Air Campaign would ever overlap so greatly in both my work and parenting roles. You see, my daughter relies heavily on me--because she is affected greatly by smog, and she relies on programs like ours to improve air quality. My daughter is one of many children that is treated for Reactive Airway Disease, or RAD. Smog hits her harder, and makes me work harder.

Let me preface this by saying a) I’m not a doctor or medical professional (nor claim to be), and b) there is very little of the medical terminology that I understand. But, I do know this:

We see a fabulous Pediatric Pulmonologist almost once a month and use inhalers and nebulizers twice daily. My daughter is susceptible to wheezing and coughing fits that often escalate with exposure to certain elements, including smog. In “Clean Air” terms, we pay extra close attention to smog and Smog Alerts daily. Luckily we haven’t experienced a Code Purple day since I’ve been with The Clean Air Campaign, but, we have had some Code Red days and many Code Orange days, and we don’t like those either.

So, as an employee of The Clean Air Campaign, I encourage you to research your clean commute options, and know what is happening to the air we all breathe on our daily commutes, such as every mile we’re not driving alone helps prevent one pound of pollution and carbon dioxide from going into the air. As a parent, I ask you what you are going to do to keep the air clean for our kids to breathe, play and grow.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22 and Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia takes place April 29-May 3, 2013. To celebrate, why not clean commute for the first time? Every little bit helps little lungs (and big ones) breathe easier. And, if you have questions or need help finding the perfect clean commute, I may know some people.

Lettie Hernandez Ongie is an Employer Program Manager with The Clean Air Campaign. For the past six years, she has assisted the State of Georgia’s various agencies with implementing clean commute options and programs, her personal favorites being Telework & Compressed Work Weeks. An avid teleworker, Lettie enjoys using her extra hour saved on telework days to spend time with family and blog.



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