There’s an organization in Jefferson and Shelby counties whose mission it is to help us breathe clean air. Alabama Partners for Clean Air (APCA), an initiative of the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission, is a group of partners that monitor the air we breathe and that implement, on a voluntary basis, strategies to improve our air quality.
These partners include the Waste Reduction and Technology Foundation, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the Jefferson County Department of Health, Commute Smart Birmingham and the United Way of Central Alabama,.
Cleaner air leads to better and improved health, helps existing businesses thrive and serves as a driver for economic growth.
In the 1970s, Jefferson and Shelby counties were classified by the EPA as having a problem with air quality due to ground level ozone and particle pollution. These counties have taken action with the help of APCA and its partners, and have met the National Ambient Air Quality Standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the work to keep our air clean is ongoing.
HOW THE PARTNERS WORK TO IMPROVE OUR AIR QUALITY:
APCA has a series of outreach programs that educate the public on how to improve and maintain clean air:
Public Outreach and Education: Public Outreach is a function of the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission and is a program that educates people on air quality and individual choices that they make when traveling. Speakers are available to speak to groups about air quality issues. This program also provides pamphlets and promotional items with information on air quality.
The employer outreach program is designed to educate employees about air quality and encourages them to carpool in order to cut down on vehicle emissions.
School children are taught about air quality and how it impacts their health through the APCA’s Science and Environmental Education program in area schools.
The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition is a member of The Clean Cities initiative which is a program designed to reduce ozone emissions from fleet vehicles by encouraging the usage of alternative fuels such as ethanol, propane or biodiesel fuels. This program also advocates for the usage of electric powered vehicles.
CommuteSmart RideShare is program that encourages people to get to work any other way than alone in a car. CommuteSmart is designed to reduce vehicle emissions by taking cars off the road. Members of CommuteSmart receive incentives to participate by carpooling, vanpooling, walking, cycling or teleworking. Even spouses who ride to work together can qualify! Go to commutesmart.org for more details.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
APCA also needs our help in keeping the air we breathe clean. Here are a few things you can do to help!
- Get your car’s emissions tested on a regular basis at one of the free testing areas at Express Oil Change.
- Take an alternative commute to work like walking, biking or carpooling.
- Telecommute! Work from home when possible and keep your car off the road.
- Avoid drive throughs, park your car and walk inside.
- Combine your errands so you aren’t driving as often.
- Turn off your engine in the carpool line.