Air Quality Awareness Week Day 4: Environmental Justice and Air Quality

This blog is part of a series about air quality and your health. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

National Air Quality Awareness Week is May 2 - 6, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) is reminding Nevadans: "Be Air Aware and Prepared!” Throughout the week, we will be sharing helpful information and resources about Nevada’s air quality on this blog. Look for new air quality related themes each day!

Everyone Deserves Clean Air

By all measures, air quality in the United States as a whole has improved dramatically over the past several decades. This is due in part to the Clean Air Act, other national and local initiatives, and advances in clean technology. Even though there are more people on Earth than ever before, who are using more energy and driving more miles — we’re still producing 77% less pollution today than we did in the 1970s.

Courtesy: EPA

This is great news! We’ve managed to separate economic growth from increased air pollution. But not everyone has benefitted equally from this progress.

The reality is that clean air is not always enjoyed equally. Low-income communities, people of color, and indigenous populations have disproportionally borne the burden of climate change. Reconciling and addressing environmental justice concerns are common threads throughout Nevada’s State Climate Strategy. For instance, the strategy has identified emissions from gasoline- and  diesel-powered vehicles and equipment — a leading source of pollution in cities — as a significant factor for this disparity.

Here at NDEP, we are working to mitigate the effects of diesel-powered vehicles by offering grants to municipalities, school districts, and private fleets to swap out their old diesel vehicles. You can read about the latest projects funded by the program here. This puts cleaner vehicles on the road, and introduces new technologies that produce a fraction of the pollution.

By repowering or replacing diesel vehicles, NDEP is helping take the worst polluting vehicles off the roads — permanently. That means less pollution, especially in the communities and neighborhoods that are most affected.

NDEP has funded electric ground support equipment at Reno and Las Vegas airports.

Air Pollution Impacts Every Part of Nevada – Even Rural Areas

NDEP recognizes that just because Nevada’s rural communities don’t have enough people for the State to install permanent regulatory air quality monitors (as we talked about in Part 3 [link]), the people that live there still experience air pollution. That’s why we’ve started an air sensor loan program to provide resources to our rural partners so they can monitor their air quality. Contact us for more information.

Do You Have a Good Idea About How to Reduce Air Pollution in Your Community?

EPA provides grants to help fund projects that address local environmental and public health issues. Visit the EPA’s Environmental Justice website to learn more. You can also stay connected by signing up for their ListServ.

What Else Can You Do to Help Reduce Air Pollution?