Summer activities are better with clean air

Collage of air-friendly activities

The start of the school year is only a few weeks away, so it may seem like summer is almost over. But there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy outdoor adventures across the Kansas City region.

Warm weather is perfect for getting outside, but summer heat can also cause higher levels of ozone pollution in our air. Ground-level ozone forms when auto emissions and volatile organic compounds react in heat and sunlight. Ozone pollution can be harmful to health, especially for young children, older adults and people with respiratory problems.

More than half of all ozone-producing emissions are caused by everyday people doing everyday activities. You can help keep our air clean and still enjoy the season by following these tips.

  • Take a break from driving and try out a new mode of transportation for your daily commute. You can reduce emissions while you enjoy the breeze by biking or walking, or sit back and read a book while riding the bus. If those options don’t work for you, consider carpooling. Sharing a ride cuts emissions in half. Find a carpool partner at RideshareKC.org.
  • Do you enjoy tailgating before a Royals game or throwing some burgers on the grill on a Sunday afternoon? Consider grilling with charcoal alternatives or a charcoal chimney. Gas grills are more efficient than charcoal grills — especially natural gas grills, which produce even fewer pollutants than propane grills. If you are going to use a charcoal grill, a charcoal chimney is an easy, cost effective and air-friendly way to light your charcoal. Avoid Lighter fluid when grilling. Not only does it affect the taste of your burgers, it emits volatile organic compounds, which pollute the air.
  • Mow in the evening. Gas-powered lawnmowers produce a lot of emissions, and when you mow during the heat of the day those emissions have a greater impact on air quality.
  • Refuel after 7 p.m. The drips and escaping fumes from pumping gas are a prime source of chemicals that form ozone. Fueling in the evening allows those fumes to dissipate overnight and that helps keep our air clean.

Protect your family’s health this summer by signing up for the SkyCast. Like a weather forecast, the SkyCast tells you what air quality conditions are most likely to be for the next day. You can subscribe to receive the daily SkyCast by text or email using the EnviroFlash notification tool. Visit AirQKC.org to find more solutions to help take care of our air.