The earth’s atmosphere is a complex, dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life. Air pollution is the human introduction into the atmosphere of chemicals, particulates, or biological materials that can cause harm to humans, other living organisms or the environment. Contrary to common perception of associating air pollution mainly with major stationary sources or smokestack industries, mobile sources such as automobiles are gaining increasing importance.
The following sections provide some resources and simple steps for Grand Prairie residents to improve air quality.
Eco Friendly Driving
- Combine errands into one trip. It helps you get things done faster, reduces traffic congestion and reduces air pollution. When you start a car after it was parked more than an hour, it pollutes up to five times more than when the engine is warm.
- Share a ride or car pool. Remember an average driver spends about 50 cents a mile including ownership and maintenance.
- Care for your car. Regular maintenance and tune ups and checking tire inflation can improve gas mileage and extend your car’s life. These simple steps are estimated to reduce emissions by more than half.
- Get fuel when it is cool. Refueling early in the morning or late in the evening can prevent gas from heating up and vaporizing while filling.
- Don’t top off tank. It releases gas fumes and negates the benefits of the pump’s antipollution devices.
- Report smoking vehicles. If you see a vehicle on the road with visible air pollution, make a note of the license number and report it to the state as a public service following instructions from the NCTCOG's Regional Smoking Vehicle Program web page. The vehicle owner will receive information from the state on the vehicle emissions program and the repair replacement program.
- Share this information with your friends and relatives. Remember, these simple steps will not only reduce air pollution but will also help reduce your gas bills.
Ozone occurs in two layers in the atmosphere. The outer layer extends from 10 to 30 miles into the stratosphere and is the “good” ozone protecting life on earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
The inner layer at ground level is the “bad” ozone formed by a reaction of gases called Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Volatile Organic compounds (VOC’s). Breathing ground level ozone can cause acute respiratory problems.
EPA has designated nine counties in the DFW area, including Dallas and Tarrant counties, as non-attainment areas of the 8 hour ozone standards. The current threshold value is 85 parts per billion (ppb); however, there is a proposal to reduce it to 70 ppb.
Four main sources of ozone precursor emissions include on road mobile sources like cars and trucks, off road mobile sources like bull dozers and backhoes, point sources like electric generating utilities, and other area sources such as solvent use and agriculture.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) designates ozone alert days based on the weather forecast for parameters such as temperatures and wind speed.
The following links give information on Ozone Alert Status and Air Quality Index:
Energy Efficient Homes
Your home uses energy everyday, all day long. It uses energy to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, cook your food, wash and dry your clothes, provide you with light when you need it, entertain you, and for a host of other activities.
Natural gas and electricity are the two main sources of energy in Grand Prairie. While limiting the use of natural gas can reduce pollution in our immediate vicinity, limiting the use of electricity will reduce pollution around the generating stations in remote locations, which is beneficial for the region as a whole. Remember, air pollution is a regional issue as it can disperse over long distances.
Here are 10 simple ways to cut home energy costs as recommended by the Consumer Federation of America:
- Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.
- Get your heating and cooling systems checked once a year. A licensed professional will make sure that each is operating efficiently and safely. Check-ups can identify problems early.
Sealing Air leaks
- Install your storm windows in the winter, if you have them. Add them if you don’t have insulated windows. Choose the ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR, the government’s symbol of energy efficiency.
- Caulk and weather strip all leaky windows, baseboards, and doors.
- Caulk and weather proof all exterior openings for plumbing and electrical service.
- Make sure all attic vents and ducts are properly sealed. Sealing your ducts can save an average of $140 annually on energy bills and consistently heat or cool every room.
- Check your attic and all exterior walls or unfinished rooms to make sure they are well insulated.
- Install a programmable thermostat – a system that automatically adjusts to different temperatures to meet your comfort needs. A programmable thermostat can save you an average of $100 a year when programmed and used properly.
- Replace traditional light bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescents. They cost a bit more, but they use 2/3 less energy and last up to ten times longer than incandescents. They are especially good in high use areas like the kitchen or hard to reach fixtures.
- Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products.
For more information, you may visit BuyEnergyEfficient.org/