Air Quality

Though our region is spared many of the traffic congestion problems that plague areas like Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, the Roanoke Valley suffers similar air quality challenges.

Air Quality Action Days

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Air Pollution in the Roanoke Region

In the Roanoke region, traffic within the valley and that passing through the valley on I-81 and 220 releases emissions into the air that, due to our unique geography, tend to remain trapped in the valley. These emissions contribute to high ground-level ozone levels in the summer, and high particulate matter pollution in the colder months. RIDE Solutions is working to improve regional air quality by working with individuals and employers to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads and encouraging people to use alternative transportation as a way to reduce harmful emissions.

Ground Level Ozone

Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient in smog and is formed by the reaction of sunlight with gasoline fumes, vehicle and industrial emissions, and solvent vapors, among others. Its formation is most likely in hot, dry weather. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality calls Air Quality Action Days any time the Air Quality Index (AQI) indicates unhealthy levels of ozone, with classifications ranging from Green, little to no health risk, to Purple, very unhealthy. 

Particle Pollution

Particle pollution is made up of particles found in soot, dust, smoke and fumes. They are produced by the burning of coal, oil, diesel and other fuels, with the primary sources of such emissions coming from vehicles and coal-burning power plants. The particles are small enough to enter deep into the lungs and cause health problems.

Over the past years, the Roanoke area has done a remarkable job of overcoming the challenges faces by ground-level ozone, but particulate matter remains a problem. And unlike ozone, which can be addressed on a day-by-day basis through strategies that be implemented over a 24-hour period, particle pollution requires a sustained, long-term effort. Changing our transportation behavior to reduce vehicle emissions is one way to effect long-term change.

How can I help improve air quality? 

Try these Easy Environmentally Sustainable Travel Decisions to help improve air quality.    Let RIDE Solutions help, Register.

  • Clean commute at least once a week – bike, walk, carpool, take transit.  One car emits approximately 20 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gasoline it uses.   
  • Trip chain.  Combine your errands into one trip.  Takes planning but the air….and your wallet will benefit.
  • Ride a bike.  Many of your trips are less than 3 miles – an easily bikable distance and great exercise outlet for you. 
  • Take a stroll.  Walk or skate instead of driving on your errands.  Great for your health, our air, and a great way to experience the neighborhood and area around you.   You never know…you might meet someone new.
  • Care for your car.  Tune-ups, regular oil changes, checking tire inflation can improve gas mileage, extend car life, and increase its resale value (that’s your money),  all while helping our air by potentially reducing your car’s emissions.
  • Fuel when it’s cool. Refueling during cooler periods of the day can help prevent gas fumes from heating up and creating ozone.
  • Don’t top off the tank.  Stop short of a full tank; it releases gas fumes into the air when you force those last drops.
  • Telecommute.  If your job allows, work at home sometimes.  Save time, money, and reduce emissions and traffic.
  • Know before you go.  Use your electronic tools.  Knowing where you are going saves time, money, and unnecessary driving…that carbon reduced, air quality saved.
  • Spread the word.  More people using sustainable travel decisions is a benefit to us all.  Let your friends and co-workers know about RIDE Solutions and how we can help create travel options to match your lifestyle. 

Am I making a difference?

Does your decision to commute clean, even if just a few times, really make a difference in air quality?   Check out the Save-a-Ton Carbon Calculator, provided by the local Save-a-Ton energy education program, to learn how your choice to commute clean impacts your personal carbon footprint and our regional air.   

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