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AIR

COMMUNITY TOOLKIT A tool to kick-start the conversation about air quality in your community.

Community Air Toolkit | 1


AIR

COMMUNITY TOOLKIT


The ideas and methods shared in this Toolkit were developed as part of the Millvale Ecodistrict planning effort, which launched in 2012. In 2015 the Millvale Community Library, in collaboration with evolveEA, published the Millvale Ecodistrict Pivot 2.0 Plan, which provides project, program, and place recommendations for six quality of life topic areas. With funding provided by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Millvale Community Library continued to dive deeper into air quality with evolveEA and produced the Breathe Easy Plan in 2016, which includes recommendations that unite placemaking and performance to improve Millvale’s air quality while building an informed and activated community. Since the launch of Breathy Easy, Millvale has implemented several of the recommendations from the Plan (including an air quality dashboard and community monitoring stations). This experience has informed the content provided as part of this toolkit in the hopes that other groups will take the journey to improve air quality in their communities as well.

WHAT IS THE ECODISTRICT TOOLKIT SERIES?

This Toolkit series makes community planning more accessible to grassroots movements with limited financial resources by helping individuals and stakeholders kick-start important conversations in their communities. Groups may choose to focus on one topic area that is most important to their community, or use multiple toolkits to address more than one topic area simultaneously. The Community Air Toolkit is the collective intellectual property of New Sun Rising, the Millvale Community Library, and evolveEA.

Funding for this toolkit was provided by The Heinz Endowments. Cover photograph by Robert Tuùón. October 2019

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AIR TOOLKIT

Table of Contents Vibrant Communities Framework 

6

Why air quality is important 

8

Sources of air pollution 

10

Purpose of this toolkit 

12

Who should be involved 

13

How to use this toolkit 

14

Creating your community goals 

16

How your community can create regional change  17 Engage 

18

Inform 

20

Plan 

22

Activate 

40

Scale 

42

Glossary 

46

Sources 

48

Community Air Toolkit | 5


VIBRANT COMMUNITIES FRAMEWORK At some point, the strategies used to develop our economy and protect our environment have become disconnected. This gap results in barriers which keep many people and places from reaching their full potential. For some, opportunity and a high quality of life seems to be everywhere. But for many, investments never reach them and the possibility of progress is difficult to imagine. New Sun Rising developed the Vibrant Communities Framework to help underresourced communities bridge this gap. The three phases - ignite, launch, and grow - help to organize activities and resources based upon each community’s unique development stage. Throughout the Community Air Toolkit you’ll see icons noting strategies which align with these phases. We understand that there are challenges to integrate sustainability within community and economic development plans. By focusing on the development of connections between people, information, and resources, the collective leadership capacity in your community will grow. Vibrant Communities is flexible and can be initiated by nonprofits, government officials, businesses, or residents. Our goal is to help you build upon assets and get to action, no matter where you are at in your development process.

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SUSTAINABILITY Phase 1: Ignite a foundation for change built upon assets, values, and relationships. IGNITE

FOR VIBRANT COMMUNITIES

We believe that every community has motivated, talented people with a unique story to tell. Ignite, the first phase of the Vibrant Communities Framework, brings focus to your values and development priorities. Strategies integrate research, engagement, and early adopters to set a culture of action. The result is an actionable plan, and the network of people inspired to make change happen. This commitment positions local stakeholders as both the drivers and beneficiaries of future change.

Phase 2: Launch your plan into action by mobilizing people and resources. LAUNCH

We believe that every community has untapped and under resourced potential. Launch, the second phase of the Vibrant Communities Framework, converts this potential into action. Strategies engage residents, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to build momentum for positive change. The result is tangible, measurable progress towards reaching your community development goals. Progress is measured and communicated to help take control of your narrative and to become more competitive for future investments.

Phase 3: Grow your impact through collaboration, scaling, and catalytic projects. GROW

We believe that every community has untapped and under resourced potential. Launch, the second phase of the Vibrant Communities Framework, converts this potential into action. Strategies engage residents, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to build momentum for positive change. The result is tangible, measurable progress towards reaching your community development goals. Progress is measured and communicated to help take control of your narrative and to become more competitive for future investments.

Community Air Toolkit | 7


WHY AIR QUALITY IS IMPORTANT THE REGION’S AIR QUALITY IS BETTER THAN IT USED TO BE!

Pittsburgh used to be known as “the Smoky City” for a reason. In the days when the region’s economy depended on steel mills, the color of the sky was an indicator of how much money was being made. Smog, soot-covered surfaces, and chronic illness were unavoidable and became a part of the urban identity. Many Pittsburghers will tell you that the region has cleaned up its act since that time.

ALLEGHENY COUNTY HAS CONSISTENTLY FAILED TO MEET FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR PM2.5, GROUND-LEVEL OZONE, AND SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS.3

WHILE THIS IS TRUE, THE REGION STILL RANKS AS THE 7TH MOST POLLUTED CITY IN THE NATION.1 The impacts of this pollution are felt regionally. Of all the top ten lists Pittsburgh has made in the past few years, this is not one to be proud of. Awareness of the region’s air quality problem is difficult for many to grasp because air pollution is largely an invisible problem that we don’t think about on a daily basis. Unlike a major storm event that brings catastrophic flooding, air pollution is most harmful with long-term exposure and is not easily defined by a single event. Luckily, studies have shown that there are dramatic reductions in health risk when people are removed from heavy pollution zones. By working together, communities in the region can help improve air quality, promote health, and protect the environment.2

POOR AIR QUALITY CAN LEAD TO HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND ECONOMIC INEQUITIES.

$ HEALTH

Air pollution is the 10th leading risk factor for death in the U.S. and has been shown to aggravate cardiovascular conditions, inhibit lung function, intensify asthma, and contribute to numerous other health problems.4

8

ECONOMY

Air pollution can negatively affect health care costs, contribute to employee absenteeism, and reduce employee productivity. Polluted communities also suffer from a decrease in tourism and agricultural activities.5

ENVIRONMENT

Air pollution contributes to acid rain, euthrophication (harmful algae blooms in bodies of water), smog (and resulting loss of visibility), crop and tree damage, and climate change.6


PITTSBURGH WAS KNOWN AS THE “SMOKY CITY”

Pittsburgh has been named...

1st Most livable city9

2nd Most walkable city10

5th 7

Pittsburgh - 1950s

Most affordable place to live11

SMOG AND HAZE STILL PLAGUE THE CITY

As well as...

32nd Most polluted city for ground-level ozone1

8th Most polluted city for PM2.51 8

Pittsburgh - 2016

PITTSBURGH’S AIR QUALITY IS IN THE WORST 10% NATIONALLY. LANCASTER, PA

This graphic shows the percentile rank for average annual particle pollution out of 315 urban areas using U.S. EPA data from 2014 to 2016.12

(3.0%)

PITTSBURGH, PA (8.9%) COLUMBUS, OH (14.0%) DIRTIEST AIR (0%)

NEW YORK, NY (46.0%)

CLEANEST AIR (100%)

BUFFALO, NY (50.0%) ORLANDO, FL (81.0%) BURLINGTON, VT (96.0%)

Community Air Toolkit | 9


SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION The National Ambient Air Quality Criteria Pollutants are six pollutants identified by the U.S. EPA for their widespread nature and ability to cause harm. National air quality standards have been established for these criteria pollutants that define allowable concentrations of these substances in the outdoor air. Allegheny County is currently failing to meet these standards for PM2.5, ground-level ozone, and sulfur dioxide. This is of particular concern because PM2.5 and ground-level ozone are the most widespread and harmful of the criteria pollutants.3

WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION? Regional point sources

Regional point sources may affect air quality in Western Pennsylvania the most, but unfortunately individual communities do not have much control over them. Regional point sources include industrial processes (such as chemical plants, steel mills, and oil refineries), large-scale fuel combustion (such as coal fired power plants), and any other large-scale pollution source located in the greater region. While individual communities lack jurisdiction to limit pollution from these sources, there are organizations that track these sources and advocate for compliance with federal air pollution emission standards. Regional point sources of air pollution may be located miles away, however, studies have shown that air pollutants can travel long distances. One study published in 2015 found that air pollution emitted in southwestern Pennsylvania travels hundreds of miles and can impact air quality as far as Ohio, Maryland, and Washington D.C..13

Local point sources

Mobile sources

Indoor air pollution

Environmental conditions can influence the distance that air pollution travels. The predominant wind direction, rivers, and valleys can transport air pollutants. Other environmental conditions, such as location in a floodplain or presence of trees and vegetation can also impact air quality.

THIS MAP SHOWS THE LARGE-SCALE POLLUTION EMITTERS IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY

Large-scale Pollution Emitters14 Allegheny County Title V Operating Permits Title V Permits not yet issued by ACHD Allegheny County Synthetic Minor Operating Permits

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Communities have more control over local point sources and mobile sources of outdoor air pollution. Local point sources of pollution include small-scale fuel combustion (such as trash and wood burning), commercial facilities (such as dry cleaners, gas stations, autobodys, and paint shops), and any other pollution source located in or directly adjacent to your community. Some of the local point sources are known and can be mapped (such as restaurants, laundromats, autobodys, and small-scale industrial). There are other sources of pollution that are known to occur but cannot be mapped (such as fire pits, burning trash, gas and charcoal grills, pizza ovens, etc.). While we acknowledge that these are sources of pollution, we do not know to what extent they contribute to pollution in our communities and we do not seek to eliminate these businesses and activities. Instead, we must all work together to find solutions that help businesses and residents thrive, while reducing their pollution impact. Mobile sources of pollution also have an impact on your community’s air quality. Mobile sources include off-road sources (such as construction equipment, lawn and garden equipment, trains, and boats) and vehicles (such as cars, trucks, buses, trains, and boats). While it is known that off-road sources of pollution exist in our communities, similar to certain local point sources of pollution, these activities are difficult to map. It is impossible to know what percent each of these sources contributes to the air quality in our communities, specifically; however, it is estimated that regional industrial point sources contribute up to 58% of air pollution in Western Pennsylvania, mobile sources contribute 22%, and residential emissions contribute 22%. Local point sources (such as burning trash) have a large impact on the air quality in the immediate vicinity, but do not contribute greatly to the overall air quality in our communities. This does not mean that local point sources do not have an impact and should not be targeted for improvement.15

Major Indoor Air Pollutants R

Radon

MOLD

Mold

CO

Carbon Monoxide

NOX

Nitrogen Oxides

PM

Particulate Matter

CH2O

Formaldehyde

PEST

Pesticides

VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds

ASB

Asbestos

Pb

Lead

National Ambient Air Quality Criteria Pollutants PM

Particulate Matter (PM2.5 * and PM10)

O3

Ground-level Ozone*

CO

Carbon Monoxide

SO2

Sulfur Dioxide*

NOX

Nitrogen Oxides

Pb

Lead

* Indicates Allegheny County non-compliance

Community members have the most control over air pollution within their own homes. People spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, however, the air quality within homes and other buildings is often times more seriously polluted than outdoor air.16 There is no indoor equivalent for the six outdoor air criteria pollutants, however, the EPA has identified several air pollutants that are of particular concern for indoor air quality. These air pollutants can be introduced indoors through a variety of sources, including indoor combustion (such as gas stoves and fireplaces), materials and furnishings (such as insulation, carpeting, upholstery, etc.), and cleaning, maintenance, and personal care products. Cracks and gaps in the walls and floor, water leaks, and poor ventilation can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Community members can control these indoor sources of pollution through decisions about their homes’ building envelope, behavior, consumer choices, and building legacy materials. Due to the age of homes in Western Pennsylvania community members are more likely to have building envelope and moisture issues compared to residents of newer homes, which can lead to radon and mold problems. Resident behavior, such as cooking or use of fireplaces without ventilation, can lead to increased levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in the home. Consumer choices regarding pest control, building materials, paints, and more can lead to increased levels of formaldehyde and pesticides in the home. Lastly, building legacy issues, such as asbestos and lead, must be abated during renovation projects.

Community Air Toolkit | 11


PURPOSE OF THIS TOOLKIT When we work together we can create change that is exponentially more impactful. At times, our region’s air quality problem can feel hopeless, and you may think there is not much you can do to improve the situation. While it is true that as individuals there is a limit to what we can accomplish, when we combine our efforts we have the potential to have a much greater impact. This is certainly true for improving air quality in our communities, which takes a coordinated and cooperative approach to be successful.

Communities across Allegheny County are taking action and this toolkit can help you take the first step. Whether you are a part of a community who is concerned about air pollution, a member of a small group of motivated citizens, or a single person with a big vision, this toolkit can help you build your community’s capacity to make a change related to air quality. The tools and resources in this toolkit serve several purposes, including to:

ENGAGE

Inspire interest in air quality and community air quality planning.

INFORM

Develop a shared understanding of the sources of air pollution, effects of air pollution, and what can be done about it.

PLAN ACTIVATE SCALE

Let’s make a change in our community!

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Develop strategies to improve air quality that align with community values. Encourage residents to take action and improve the air quality in their community. Partner with organizations that can implement more complex and technical recommendations.

We need to build capacity.

I want to get involved!


WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED It is important for air quality planning efforts to have consistent leadership while providing an opportunity for all to engage. Your core team of air quality leaders may include ten people or one person. Either way, it is important for air quality team leadership to remain consistent as engagement efforts work to widen the circle of participants. Often times, air quality planning efforts start with one or two people with a passion. As their ideas and efforts spread, leadership becomes shared as additional community members become involved and may step up to champion specific priority areas in their community. As the circle of engagement continues to widen, make sure that your efforts reflect the collective values and ideas put forth by the community. Leaders should encourage residents to participate in different ways and must recognize that their neighbors’ contributions can take many forms. Some neighbors may be interested in implementing strategies, some may be satisfied with attending meetings, others may want to know what is happening, but do not want to participate. All interest from engagement to activation are encouraged and residents should participate in whatever way is most meaningful to them. This toolkit provides ways to engage, inform, plan, and activate with the community around the topic of air quality, and we encourage your community to go into whatever depth makes the most sense for your community’s unique needs.

AIR QUALITY PLANNING IS INCLUSIVE! Anyone is welcome to participate in air quality planning efforts! Activities should be respectful of all individuals and perspectives. Potential stakeholders include: Local municipal government Residents Business owners Community leaders Air quality experts Universities Youth & others!

This is ESSENTIAL for an equitable process.

Who is involved? ENGAGE

Some residents are happy to participate in one or two community meetings or events, or may want to be aware of the initiative, but not participate fully.

INFORM

Some residents are very interested in the topic and want to learn the ins and outs about air quality or other quality of life areas.

PLAN

Some residents want to engage in planning efforts and feel passionately about providing their perspective on community values, visions, and goals.

ACTIVATE

A smaller group of residents will be interested in activating the plan and participating in projects and programs.

Community Air Toolkit | 13


HOW TO USE THIS TOOLKIT This toolkit can be used by communities who are just starting the conversation to those ready to begin implementing initiatives. Start by determining what the objectives are for your community engagement process, and then select the strategies that align best with your objectives. Follow the flow chart on this page to help establish where your community is in the process and which objectives are most in alignment.

NO Has your community had any previous engagement about air quality?

NO

YES

Does your community understand sources and effects of air pollution?

NO

YES

Does your community have an air quality action plan?

NO

YES

Has your community started implementing your air quality action plan?

Can we use this toolkit for our... COMPREHENSIVE PLAN?

Yes! Air quality planning can be integrated into a comprehensive plan or can be a stand-alone chapter within a comprehensive plan.

ECODISTRICT PLAN?

Yes! Air quality planning can be a topic area in an ecodistrict plan, along with other topic areas such as energy, food, water, etc.

REDEVELOPMENT PLAN?

Yes! Planning efforts for a specific site can incorporate air quality priorities or recommendations.

AIR QUALITY PLAN?

Absolutely! Air quality planning can be a stand-alone activity that results in a community air quality plan.

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YES


START HERE!

TOOLS FOR THIS OBJECTIVE INCLUDE:

ENGAGE

page 20

Objective Inspire interest in air quality and community air quality planning.

INFORM

page 22

Objective Develop a shared understanding of the sources of air pollution, effects of air pollution, and what can be done about it.

PLAN

page 24

Objective Develop strategies to improve air quality that align with community values.

ACTIVATE

page 42

Objective Encourage the community to take action to improve the air quality in their community.

SCALE

page 44

Objective Partner with organizations that can implement more complex and technical recommendations.

Community meetings

Non-traditional engagement methods

Presentations

Games

Citizen science

Vision statement

Community values

Perception survey

Map of air pollution sources and assets

Brainstorming solutions

Create an action plan

Launch event

Commitment postcard

Develop a workplan

Small wins

Annual air quality celebration

Share your experience with the region

Once your community has implemented the strategies in the four categories mentioned above, we highly recommend that you partner with organizations who can help you implement more complex and technical recommendations to scale your impact.

Community Air Toolkit | 15


CREATING YOUR COMMUNITY GOALS Every community is unique and may approach air quality from different perspectives. Some communities may include major pollution emitters, others may be upwind from major pollution emitters. Some may contain older homes with severe indoor air quality issues, others may have high childhood asthma rates. After establishing your community engagement objectives (page 16), it is important to establish your goals for this process to ensure that you choose strategies that will address your community’s greatest needs. Tailor your community engagement strategy around your community goals. Some example goals include:

GOAL

ENGAGE INFORM

Build awareness about the regional air quality problem.

GOAL

ENGAGE INFORM ACTIVATE

Activate a grassroots movement to advocate for regional air quality change.

GOAL

ENGAGE INFORM ACTIVATE

Teach residents how to improve indoor air quality.

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GOAL

INFORM PLAN ACTIVATE

Reduce contribution of local point sources of pollution.

GOAL

ENGAGE INFORM

Understand the quality of the air in your community.

GOAL

PLAN ACTIVATE

Reduce air qualityrelated health issues.

This is ESSENTIAL for an equitable process.


HOW YOUR COMMUNITY CAN CREATE REGIONAL CHANGE By working together, collaboration between communities can create regional change. Pollution does not respect municipal boundaries or jurisdictions, and improvements are outside the control of any single community. However, regional change can be achieved through a multi-tiered approach that connects the individual to their community and to the greater region. Efforts taken to improve air quality should tap into individual values and lived experiences, create citizen cohorts who are empowered to act in their communities, and build networks of concerned communities to advocate for broader change. This model is based on observations made during past air quality education and planning projects.

WE MUST COLLABORATE TO BE SUCCESSFUL! The strategies in this toolkit are intended to empower communities to build an action plan that addresses air quality by leveraging shared values and experiences in order to create local and regional change.

These experiences will help us make change. We are more likely to act when we have

FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE. We are more likely to act when we understand that we are part of a larger community with

SHARED EXPERIENCES AND VALUES. We are more likely to act when we are part of

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. We are more likely to act when

PLACE IS EMPHASIZED AS PART OF OUR EDUCATION.

Visualizing air quality helped me understand the problem.

We both think the air smells like rotten eggs, let’s do something about it!

I didn’t believe how poor the air quality is until I measured it myself.

Community Air Toolkit | 17


ENGAGE

INSPIRE INTEREST IN AIR QUALITY AND COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY PLANNING.

INFORM PLAN ACTIVATE SCALE

COMMUNITY MEETING TIPS! Make sure to use these tips for your community meetings.

Make sure that every voice is heard

COMMUNITY MEETINGS While there are several ways to engage your community, the most direct way is to host a community meeting. Community meetings can act as a forum for highly interactive discussions, exercises, and feedback. Determine a clear objective for each community meeting that you host, and decide how many community meetings are necessary to meet the overall goals and objectives of your air quality planning process.

When planning a community meeting, make sure to consider: 1. DATE AND TIME Value all opinions

Include a variety of speakers

Choose a day that does not have any other conflicting events, such as community celebrations, meetings for local non-profits, major sporting events, etc. Typically weekdays are best for community meetings and weekends are best for other types of engagement. Choose a time that does not conflict with the work and school day (a 6 or 7pm start time is recommended).

2. LOCATION Include interactive games and activities

Choose a location for your meeting that is in the community, is easy to navigate to, has ample parking, and is an inviting and neutral location for all individuals in your community. Make sure the location has plenty of tables and seating, and encourages small and large group dialogue. Community centers, churches, and schools are often good locations for community meetings.

3. SUPPORT AND INCENTIVES Create a handout summary for attendees to take home

Collect contact information to keep attendees in the loop

Provide support for those with families and busy workdays. Offer free on-site childcare, dinner, and/or a raffle to provide support and encourage attendance. Community members do not have to attend your meeting, so providing support in these ways shows them that their time and effort is appreciated.

4. EXTENSIVE AND INCLUSIVE OUTREACH

Make sure to get the word out about your meeting! Use a diversity of methods including going door-to-door, social media, flyers at local businesses, posters at community anchors, etc. Also, make sure you are reaching all groups of individuals within your community. It is important to keep this process inclusive, and extensive and thoughtful outreach is the key to this. Outreach for community meetings should begin no later than one month before the meeting date. This is ESSENTIAL for an equitable process.

18


NON-TRADITIONAL ENGAGEMENT METHODS While community meetings can be very effective to engage your community, there are many other ways to attract the attention of your neighbors and build capacity. The key to community engagement is to pursue a wide variety of methods to meet people where they are and engage individuals of all types and interests. If you are trying to grab your community’s attention, catalyze interest in air quality, or you are approaching residents to inform or activate them, try these engagement methods:

There are many different ways to engage your community and build capacity, including: SCAVENGER HUNTS

Organize a scavenger hunt that encourages participants to find sources of air pollution in their community, as well as air quality assets that help to reduce pollution.

COMMUNITY DINNER

Host a community dinner where residents and air quality experts come together in an informal setting to discuss the region’s air quality.

GAMES

Develop a game to help residents understand sources of pollution, strategies to mitigate pollution, and their relative scales of impact.

TRAINING

Provide in-depth training about air quality to air quality champions, youth, or other interested individuals. This can be a 1 or 2 day intensive.

SPECIAL INTEREST FAIR PARTY WORKING GROUP

Invite regional air quality partners to your community for a weekend afternoon air quality fair. Residents can learn about air quality from these partners, in addition to their services related to air quality. Host an air quality party in the park featuring entertainment, food, and beverages. This event can be a fundraiser and co-sponsored by regional partners. Have a particular issue related to air quality? Convene a working group of community members and local experts to research and resolve the issue.

VOLUNTEER EVENTS

Host a one-day volunteer blitz where residents plant trees, go door-to-door with air quality information, or perform other air quality actions.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Work with local schools and community members to conduct citizen science experiments. Measure air quality in different geographies, proximity to sources, and other situations.

ART INSTALLATIONS CAMPAIGN

Commission an artist to create a piece inspired by air quality or encourage community members to contribute pieces to a new exhibition. Start an air quality campaign where signs, stickers, and/or social media help to get the word out about air quality to the community.

Community Air Toolkit | 19


ENGAGE

INFORM PLAN ACTIVATE SCALE

AIR QUALITY PRESENTATION A Powerpoint Presentation is available through this toolkit to inform your community about air quality.

DEVELOP A SHARED UNDERSTANDING OF THE SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION, EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION, AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT.

Once you have your community’s attention, it is time to inform them about air quality. It is important for community members to learn about regional air quality, the history of air quality in our region, the health impacts of poor air quality, and the greater context for why this work is important. Residents should also learn about sources of pollution, strategies for improvement, and recommendations of what they can do as individuals to make a change. You can inform your community through presentations, activities, or non-traditional engagement methods (see page 20). Choose the methods that will best achieve the overall goals and objectives of your air quality planning process.

PRESENTATIONS Presentations are the most direct and comprehensive way to inform your community about air quality. Presentations are most effective when they have multiple speakers, provide neutral and fact-based information, and are broken up with activities and opportunities for attendees to ask questions and engage with the information. The longer the presentation is, the less likely the community will be able to focus and retain information, so consider a series of presentations that are shorter, instead of one very long presentation. Your presentation(s) should include:

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Recent regional air quality trends

History and context about air quality in the region

Comparison to other regions and the nation

Health, economic, and environmental impacts of poor air quality

Types of air pollutants and where they come from

Environmental conditions that impact air quality

Sources of indoor air pollution

Recommendations of what individuals can do to improve air quality


Inform your community about air quality through interactive techniques.

GAMES Create a game that teaches participants about sources of pollution, strategies to minimize pollution and improve air quality, and their relative scale of impact. Games should be informative, engaging, have a clear objective and rules, and, of course, be fun!

CITIZEN SCIENCE Engage residents in citizen science experiments to increase their knowledge of air quality while gathering important data. Resident volunteers can place air quality monitors in their homes and backyards, they can measure pollution in different geographic areas within the community, and/or they can identify sources of pollution in the community. Ask participants to present their findings at the next community meeting.

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ENGAGE INFORM

PLAN

DEVELOP STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY THAT ALIGN WITH COMMUNITY VALUES.

ACTIVATE SCALE

AIR QUALITY VISION STATEMENTS Vision statements should be bold and represent an ideal future condition for a community. Here are some phrases to consider for your vision statements.

Empowered and activated advocates

Breathe easy

When developing a community air quality action plan, it is important to consider the community’s vision and values. Before diving into the planning process, start by creating a forward-looking vision and goals with the community. This will help you prioritize actions and will activate residents to implement the plan with you.

Start by articulating a community vision statement and values:

VISION STATEMENT Ask residents to reflect on the air quality information provided to them and to envision their community ten years in the future with questions such as: What will the air quality in your community be like? How will it affect residents’ lives? Ask them to write an air quality vision statement for the community. Based on the feedback received, leadership should develop an official air quality vision statement for the community, which will become the guiding statement for the action plan.

COMMUNITY VALUES Optimal indoor air quality

Healthy residents, including youth and elders

Provide a series of statements to residents and ask them to select three that are most important to them. This will provide insight into which community air quality values are most important to them. Statements may include: •

Our community has the cleanest outdoor air of any of the surrounding communities.

Our community has the greatest number of trees per square foot of the surrounding communities.

I experience clean outdoor air when walking around our community.

I learn best practices to improve the indoor air quality within my home.

The air quality within my home is significantly better than the air quality outdoors. This is ESSENTIAL for an equitable process.

Healthy and clean air community

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PERCEPTION SURVEY Distribute an air quality perception survey to understand current perceptions and mis-perceptions about air quality. The mis-perceptions identified in the survey results can be specifically targeted as part of the action plan. The survey may include the following questions: •

How does the air quality in our region compare to the nation?

What are the biggest sources of air pollution in our community?

How does air quality affect you?

Do you see air quality as a problem?

Are you interested in changing our region’s air quality?

MAP OF AIR POLLUTION SOURCES AND ASSETS Now that the community is aware of the sources of air pollution and their relative scales, ask them to work in small groups to map different sources of air pollution in the community. This can include mobile sources (cars, trucks, buses, trains, etc.), local point sources (restaurant exhaust, laundromats, gas stations, etc.), and regional sources of pollution. For more information on sources of air pollution, please see page 12. Next, ask the community to map air quality assets, such as parks, trees, and green space. This mapping activity may be paired with an on-the-ground activity, such as measuring air quality near pollution sources or a scavenger hunt.

BRAINSTORM SOLUTIONS With the community air quality vision statement, values, perceptions, and air pollution sources and assets in front of them, ask residents to brainstorm ways to minimize pollution, minimize exposure to pollution, increase awareness and education, and measure data related to air quality in the community. Residents may be provided a list of strategies to prioritize, or they may be asked to generate ideas on their own.

Community Air Toolkit | 23


ACTION PLAN TIPS! Make sure to use these tips when creating your community action plan.

Choose small projects that can be implemented quickly along with long-term projects

Choose projects and programs according to your community capacity and available funding

With the community vision statement, values, perceptions, pollution sources and assets, and preliminary solutions list in front of you, it is time to create an air quality action plan.

CREATE AN ACTION PLAN The following pages provide recommended programs, strategies, and individual actions that can be taken to measure a baseline of how much pollution impacts your community, minimize sources of and exposure to air pollution, and create an informed and activated culture about air quality. It is important to consider the scale of impact, cost, and time requirements needed for each strategy when assembling your action plan. When making planning decisions, don’t forget to make decisions informed by the community’s input.

Consider the following when making decisions about your community air quality action plan: WHAT DID THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS SAY? Use voting or other techniques to quantify community priorities for the action plan.

DOES THIS SUPPORT OUR VISION AND VALUES? Choose the top projects and programs, create a pros and cons list, and prioritize based on this information

If suggested projects are not in support of the air quality vision and values, they should not be a first priority.

HOW MUCH FUNDING DO WE HAVE AVAILABLE?

Choosing low or no cost projects first can help build momentum with a small budget.

CAN THIS STRATEGY HAVE MORE THAN ONE BENEFIT? Your action plan should be a living document - it should change and evolve as conditions do over time

Choosing strategies that improve mobility choices, provide more affordable energy costs, or have other benefits can multiply your impact.

CAN EVERYONE BENEFIT?

Who will benefit from the results of this strategy? Choose strategies that equitably distribute benefits across your community. This is ESSENTIAL for an equitable action plan.

The actions on the following pages are organized into three categories: Nobody is perfect! Create multiple iterations of the action plan and talk it over with the community

BASELINE MEASUREMENT Understand the sources of

pollution that affect your community’s air quality and gather in-depth data on the various pollutants that they emit.

MINIMIZE SOURCES AND EXPOSURE Minimize the production of and contact with air pollutants inside and outside of the community. INFORMED AND ACTIVATED CULTURE Create an informed culture that advocates for and acts upon air quality issues.

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Use this worksheet to help you develop your community action plan.

COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN Air Quality Vision Statement: (see page 24)

Air Quality Goals: (see page 18)

What is your community’s current capacity to implement projects and programs? How much money does your community have available for projects and programs? Top ten strategies in order of priority:

Community Air Toolkit | 25


Community Air Quality Action Plan Strategies

BASELINE MEASUREMENT

Understand the sources of pollution that affect your community’s air quality and gather in-depth data on the various pollutants that they emit.


COST

IMPACT

TIME

Choose from the following strategies for your community action plan (or develop your own!). MEASURE FOR RADON IN YOUR BASEMENT.

Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas that is not detectable by smell or taste. Radon can enter your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Older homes are particularly susceptible to elevated radon levels. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and Surgeon General recommend testing schools and homes below the third floor for radon. The program ROCIS provides homes with real-time ongoing radon monitoring for program participants.17 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Non-profits such as the American Lung Association (ALA), ROCIS, and community anchors such as schools and libraries. COST Community anchors will have to acquire funding to purchase radon monitors.

USE THE SMELL PGH APP TO LOG BAD SMELLS.

Smell Pittsburgh is a smartphone app designed to engage Pittsburgh residents in tracking pollution odors across the region. The app also includes a map-view showing smell reports submitted in the area on a given date. This allows residents to track where odors are frequently concentrated, and link those smell events to poor air quality in, or upwind from, those areas. Tracking this information provides education and awareness, and helps to build a data set which can analyze regional air quality trends. Additionally, once smells (both bad smells and good smells) are logged in the app, it automatically sends a report to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), which allows them to make better policy decisions thanks to citizen participation and input.18 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Smell PGH app COST The app is free to download and use.

CONDUCT A HOME ENERGY AUDIT.

A home energy audit helps you pinpoint where your house is losing energy and what you can do to improve your homes energy performance to save money. In addition, an audit can identify mold and moisture issues, carbon monoxide (CO), and natural gas leaks, all of which impact our indoor air quality and health. A home energy auditor will first conduct a home assessment and then perform an analysis to determine the most effective and efficient improvements for your home. On average, you can save 5-30% on your energy bill by making efficiency upgrades identified in your home energy audit while also improving your home’s air quality.19 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Conservation Consultants Inc. (CCI) or a private sector home energy auditor, utility companies COST Some non-profits may perform free energy audits. Private sector providers and utility companies offer energy audits for $350+ depending on the level of detail requested.

UPDATE A MAP OF POLLUTION SOURCES ANNUALLY.

As part of this process, your community should create a map of pollution sources to understand the types of businesses that may contribute negatively to air quality and where they are located. Your community should update this map annually to understand how the placement of new businesses may contribute to local air quality. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Business owners COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY Updating the map can be the annual responsibility of one individual or can be a community -wide effort.

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TIME

COST

IMPACT

ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION IN ROCIS.

Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces (ROCIS) is an organization that collects indoor and outdoor air quality data from homes in the Greater Pittsburgh area to inform research about reducing the impact of outdoor air pollution in indoor environments. ROCIS engages groups of individuals for 3-week periods. Participants place monitors inside and outside of their homes to measure different air quality pollutants. Encourage community members to participate in a ROCIS cohort to learn more about their indoor air quality and collect community data that can be used to raise awareness.20 POTENTIAL PARTNERS ROCIS COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY The more people that participate, the better!

MAKE LOW-COST MONITORS AND RADON SENSORS AVAILABLE TO RENT AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY OR COMMUNITY CENTER.

Making these monitors readily available to community members will raise awareness and educate residents about air quality (particularly indoor air quality). The information collected will add to a growing dataset, which will contribute to the community’s air quality baseline. Understanding levels of particulate matter in residents’ homes will help them make informed decisions about how to improve their indoor air quality. They may choose to test whether their vacuum exudes particles, whether their cleaning products are making their family cough, or whether their kitchen range hood is affecting indoor air quality. Education and awareness leads to action, and using a low-cost monitor can help. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Community anchors such as libraries and community centers, and Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. COST Low cost air quality monitors can cost as little as $150 per monitor. CAPACITY The monitors will require some maintenance to re-calibrate them.

IMPLEMENT A SCHOOL AIR QUALITY TESTING PROGRAM.

Air quality testing programs engage the next generation of air quality advocates in data collection and experimentation. Students can monitor the indoor and outdoor air quality surrounding their school, they can experiment with different types of filters, they can learn about indoor air quality issues and more. A monitoring and exploration program can also be launched at a daycare, community center, church, or other location. Students exploring air quality issues can make an impact in their home and community as well. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Schools, EPA Indoor Air Quality Program for schools COST Varies depending on the materials required and the curriculum followed. CAPACITY Teachers can work with local air quality experts to develop this curriculum.

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COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN Our top strategies and notes from this section:

29


Community Air Quality Action Plan Strategies

MINIMIZE SOURCES AND EXPOSURE

Minimize the production of and contact with air pollutants inside and outside of the community.


COST

IMPACT

TIME

Choose from the following strategies for your community action plan (or develop your own!). DESIGNATE TRUCK-FREE STREETS AND UPGRADE MUNICIPAL VEHICLES TO LOW-EMISSION VEHICLES.

Trucks produce particulate matter and contribute to the production of ozone, affecting the health of those who live near truck routes. Dense residential areas and zones with a high proportion of sensitive populations can become designated as “truck-free� streets to improve air quality and health. Additionally, municipalities can upgrade existing municipal vehicles to low-emission vehicles, and develop a policy indicating this standard for future purchases.21 POTENTIAL PARTNERS The municipal government for your community. COST Depends on how many vehicles will be upgraded or replaced. CAPACITY The municipality will need to work with trucking companies to determine acceptable alternative routes.

HOLD OPEN STREET EVENTS.

Open Street events occur when a group of businesses, neighbors, non-profits, and other stakeholders work with their municipal government to close down a major street in town and allow residents to take back the streets, by biking, walking, dancing, and playing. A study conducted by the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) found that pollution levels can be up to four times lower during these events due to the absence of cars.22 POTENTIAL PARTNERS GASP, OpenStreetsPGH COST This is a low cost initiative. CAPACITY The municipal government will need to work with local businesses and non-profits for a successful event.

DEVELOP A COMPLETE STREETS AND DEVELOPMENT DENSITY POLICY.

Complete streets are designed with pedestrians, bikers, and bus riders in mind, in addition to the car. Complete streets encourage travel through alternative modes of transportation because they are safer and more enjoyable for all. Communities can develop a complete streets policy, prioritizing heavily traveled roads. This policy can be supported with a development density policy that encourages or requires new construction in the center of town or commercial district to have a certain floor area ratio (FAR). POTENTIAL PARTNERS BikePGH, local community Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee COST Policy creation is a low/no cost initiative. Implementation is a multi-year process that can be costly. CAPACITY A consultant can be hired for the design and implementation of complete streets and related polices.

CONSTRUCT GREEN WALLS AND GREEN ROOFS.

Green roofs and walls are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also capture airborne pollutants and filter noxious gases, in addition to improving the urban heat island effect, managing stormwater, and more. Encourage community members to construct green walls and green roofs where feasible. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Grow Pittsburgh COST The average cost of green roofs is between $15 -$20 psf. The average cost of living walls is $95 -$165 psf.23 CAPACITY A consultant can be hired for the design and construction of green walls and roofs.

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TIME

COST

IMPACT

FORMALLY DESIGNATE AND PROTECT COMMUNITY HILLSIDES AS PARKS.

Community hillsides are a valuable asset that are both enjoyable to explore and can capture and remove pollution. A study conducted in New York City in 1994 found that trees can remove particulate matter, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide from the atmosphere. Communities can officially protect its hillsides from future development, maintaining them as an air quality asset, by designating them as official greenways or parks.24 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Tree Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and Landforce. COST Depends on the quantity and scale of land acquisition required. CAPACITY The municipal government will need to work with regional partners and landowners for acquisition.

ENCOURAGE BUILDING TECHNOLOGY THAT MITIGATES POLLUTION (TITANIUM, ALGAE, ETC.).

New building technologies are emerging that have been shown to capture hazardous air pollutants and convert them into harmless byproducts. Titanium dioxide is a photo-catalyst that, when used as a coating on roofs and wall panels, can neutralize NOx and VOCs in the air. Architects and engineers have also begun to look at ways in which algae can be incorporated into building envelope systems to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and pull NOx and SOx out of the air for use as nutrients. Communities can become leaders in the region by encouraging the use of emerging air pollution-mitigation technologies. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Universities COST Because these are emerging technologies, costs are currently moderate to high, but could drop in the coming years. CAPACITY Communities can hire a consultant for design and implementation of building technologies or they can partner with a local university research center.

CONTINUE AND ENHANCE WOOD BURNING STOVE AND LAWN MOWER TRADE-IN PROGRAMS.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) collects uncertified wood stoves from County residents and provides those residents with a $200 gift card to purchase a stove manufactured to EPA-approved specifications, which reduces smoke production, increases heat output, and increases efficiency, resulting in less fuel used. In the past ACHD has held a similar program for residents to upgrade their lawnmowers. Community members can participate in this program and can advocate for the return of the lawnmower trade-in program.25 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Allegheny County Health Department COST This is a no cost initiative for communities. CAPACITY This initiative requires limited capacity to promote the program(s).

HOLD TREE PLANTING EVENTS.

Work with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to hold tree planting events throughout the community. Communities can strategically prioritize locations to buffer poor air quality, such as near major roads and highways. Additionally, holding Tree Tender and Tree pruning workshops can teach residents how to maintain trees. A tree ordinance can be created in conjunction with tree plantings in order to protect and maintain trees that have been planted. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Western PA Conservancy, Tree PGH COST Depends on the scale of the event, but tree planting events can be hosted for a low cost. CAPACITY Partner with an air quality education service provider and/or your local municipal government.

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COST

IMPACT

TIME

REVISE MUNICIPAL BUILDING CODE AND ZONING CODE TO PROTECT SENSITIVE POPULATIONS.

The municipality can revise the municipal building codes to require proper levels of air exchange and filtration in buildings for sensitive populations, and recommend healthy building practices, such as materials and furnishings with low or no VOCs. The municipality can create a sensitive populations zoning code that restricts the quantity of air toxins that can be emitted in close proximity to institutions serving youth, seniors, and other sensitive populations. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Schools, Hospitals COST This a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY Municipalities may need to partner with a consultant to write these codes.

ADVOCATE FOR A POLLUTION CAP AND TRADE SYSTEM.

A cap and trade system is a means by which greenhouse gases or air toxin emissions can be reduced. It involves creating a market where air toxin allowances can be bought and sold by entities, to better facilitate an improvement in air quality. This is a long-term goal that would be most successful if the community sees an increase in significant local point sources of pollution.26 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Local businesses and municipal, state, and federal governments. COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY Consider partnering with an economic consultant to determine the best means to implement this program.

UPDATE CONSTRUCTION, RESTAURANT AND LOCAL POINT SOURCE POLLUTION REGULATIONS.

Municipalities can revise and/or develop a municipal construction dust management policy, restaurant emissions policy, and local point source policy. These policies should outline best practice procedures and requirements to minimize emissions and improve air quality, with the consequence of a fee. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Local businesses, contractors, and the local municipal government. COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY Municipalities can partner with a consultant to develop the policies.

IMPLEMENT AND ENFORCE A MUNICIPAL-WIDE NO IDLING POLICY. Municipalities can implement a municipal-wide no idling policy and enforce it. An idling car can release as much pollution as a moving car and results in wasted fuel. Residents should be educated about the harmful impacts of idling, and should be fined when caught doing so. This fine can be doubled in areas with a high proportion of sensitive populations (schools, hospitals, etc.). POTENTIAL PARTNERS Schools, hospitals, and the Police Department. COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY This policy can be created independently or with assistance from a consultant.

ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL GAS AND OTHER CLEANER BURNING FUELS FOR SCHOOL AND PUBLIC BUSES.

School buses and Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC) buses primarily run on diesel fuel, contributing 15 times more air pollutants than natural gas fueled buses. Communities can advocate to PAAC and the local school district to change the fuel type of the buses that run through their community.27 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Port Authority of Allegheny County, local school district COST Depends on what new fuel is being used, and how many vehicles are being transitioned.

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TIME

COST

IMPACT

INSTALL A RADON MITIGATION SYSTEM.

If your home has elevated radon levels, consider purchasing a radon mitigation system. These systems will prevent radon gas from building up in your home and may prevent soil moisture vapor from seeping into your home. Some systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%, even reducing very high levels to acceptable levels.28 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Steel City Radon, various private service providers COST The cost of a mitigation system may vary according to the home’s design, size, foundation, construction materials and the local climate. Radon reduction systems cost on average from $800$1,500 depending on the condition.28

DO NOT BURN GARBAGE, WOOD, AND YARD CLIPPINGS.

Smoke resulting from burning garbage, wood, and yard clippings is composed of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles, which can produce a big health threat. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Fine particles can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases – and are even linked to premature deaths in people with these conditions. This action is currently prohibited in Allegheny County and should not be practiced.29 POTENTIAL PARTNERS The local municipal government to enforce a no burning policy. COST Free!

CHANGE YOUR HVAC FILTERS EVERY 3-6 MONTHS OR SEASONALLY.

Dirt and dust build up in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters over time. Replacing them periodically will not only make them more effective at removing particulate matter from the air stream and improving indoor air quality, but can also improve the efficiency of your HVAC equipment, saving you money. When to change your filter can vary for each home. Check the filter every couple of months and replace it when it is visibly dirty.30 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Residents (including homeowners and landlords) COST On average, HVAC filters cost less than $20 each and can be found at Home Depot or any other home improvement store.

WALK, BIKE, OR TAKE THE BUS AT LEAST ONCE PER WEEK. DON’T DRIVE ON AIR QUALITY ACTION DAYS.

Vehicles emit VOCs, NOx, and other pollutants that contribute to air pollution and negative health effects. Walking, biking, taking the bus, or using a different means of transportation that does not contribute to air pollution at least once per week can make a difference. Air Quality Action Days occur when the air quality reaches an unhealthy level (as defined by the EPA). Choosing not to drive on these days is particularly impactful. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Community members COST Free!

BUY LOCAL PRODUCTS AND GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS.

Buying products produced locally reduces the amount of vehicle miles traveled to transport that product to your community. The fewer miles traveled, the fewer truck emissions there will be, which will improve air quality. Traditional cleaning products and other household products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to poor indoor air quality and numerous health effects. Using green cleaning products can be just as effective as traditional cleaning products, and they do not affect indoor air quality.16 POTENTIAL PARTNERS Businesses can provide a “green and healthy cleaning products” shelf in their stores. COST These products are often the same price as traditional products, but can sometimes cost slightly more.

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TIME

IMPACT

COST

BUY RENEWABLE ENERGY OFFSETS.

Power plants are the nations top source of carbon dioxide emissions, and are also the leading cause of smog and acid rain. Allegheny County is located downwind from several old and inefficient coal-fired power plants, which contribute significantly to the regions poor air quality. To support renewable energy generation, individuals and businesses can purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). You can purchase the same amount of RECs as your home consumes annually to balance out the energy your home is drawing from the grid, resulting in net zero (or net positive if your purchase exceeds consumption) impact on air quality.31 POTENTIAL PARTNERS REC Suppliers COST The cost fluctuates depending on the market.

INSTALL EXHAUST FANS IN YOUR KITCHEN AND BATHROOM.

Activities such as cooking creates particulate matter, and water build-up in restrooms can lead to mold. Particulate matter and mold both contribute to poor indoor air quality and can have severe health impacts. Installing exhaust fans that vent to the outdoors in restrooms and kitchens will remove particulate matter and dry restrooms to prevent concentrations of these air toxins. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Local contractor COST The cost to install an exhaust fan varies based on the home, but on average can range from $200-$500.

UPGRADE YOUR HOME’S DUCT AND FILTRATION SYSTEM.

Upgrading or improving the ductwork and air filter in your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can yield significant reductions in PM2.5 and PM10 levels. The interventions can range from simple (such as upgrading to a MERV 13 filter), to more involved (such as installing an ECM motor for continuous filtration, increasing the capacity for larger filter sizes, and optimizing ductwork for better air flow). POTENTIAL PARTNERS ROCIS COST This can range from low cost improvements such as purchasing higher MERV-rated filters, to the moderate cost of HVAC upgrades and optimization.

COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN Our top strategies and notes from this section:

35


Community Air Quality Action Plan Strategies

INFORMED AND ACTIVATED CULTURE

Create an informed culture that advocates for and acts upon air quality issues.

36


COST

IMPACT

TIME

Choose from the following strategies for your community action plan (or develop your own!). ENCOURAGE RESIDENTS TO SIGN UP FOR AIR QUALITY ACTION DAY NOTIFICATIONS.

When the pollution in the air reaches unhealthy levels it is called an Air Quality Action Day. This information is tracked and provided by EPA’s AirNow, and it is recommended that on these days residents should limit activities that contribute to poor air quality. Communities can encourage residents to sign up for email lists or apps that notify them when Air Quality Action Days are imminent.32 POTENTIAL PARTNERS AirNow COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY Once this app or email list is automated, it will require little to no maintenance.

CONDUCT ANNUAL AIR QUALITY PERCEPTION SURVEYS.

Issue a survey to understand what community members think about the community’s air quality, what they value, and their opinion about how to take action. The community can conduct this survey every three years to understand how the community’s initiatives have influenced public opinion and action. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Community anchors who can assist in distributing the survey. COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY Every three years, the survey will need to be promoted and the results analyzed.

HOLD INDOOR AIR QUALITY EDUCATION EVENTS WITH FREE HVAC FILTERS.

Communities can hold monthly or seasonal indoor air quality events to educate residents about sources of indoor air pollution and best practices to improve air quality. These events may include hands-on activities, or giveaways such as free heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters. Communities may also choose to have an annual air quality month with several events occurring during that time. POTENTIAL PARTNERS GASP, The Breathe Project COST The cost depends on the scale of the initiative. CAPACITY Communities may choose to partner with air quality education service providers for these events.

ENCOURAGE BUSINESSES TO DESIGNATE A SHELF TO “AIR QUALITY FRIENDLY” PRODUCTS.

Communities can encourage local businesses to designate a shelf in their stores for “air quality friendly” products, featuring products related to green cleaning, home weatherization, furnace filters, and more. These products should be highly visible and can be accompanied by brochures or “fun fact” signs. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Local businesses COST Promoting the program is a no/low cost initiative. CAPACITY Work with local businesses.

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TIME

COST

IMPACT

ADVOCATE FOR BIKE SHARE STATIONS IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

Biking is a fun and effective alternative to driving that reduces air pollution. Communities can advocate for bike share stations in their area, which can be used to encourage residents to reduce their vehicle miles traveled and engage in a health alternative. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Healthy Ride, Bike PGH COST Discussing the creation of a new station is a low/no cost initiative. Creating an independent bike share system would be a larger expense. CAPACITY Work with Healthy Ride, Bike PGH, and other relevant organizations.

START A COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY ACTION TEAM.

Communities can organize an “Air Ambassadors” or “Air Quality Action Team” program. Air Ambassadors can provide education and awareness about indoor and outdoor air quality and best practices to residents, organize air quality events (such as tree plantings), and champion the community’s advocacy efforts to ensure that resident concerns about air quality are heard. POTENTIAL PARTNERS GASP, The Breathe Project COST Organizing the Ambassador’s program is a low/no cost initiative. The cost of implementing the actions involved varies based on scale and type. CAPACITY Varies depending on initiatives pursued.

WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE TO ADVOCATE FOR CLEAN AIR.

Air quality is a regional problem, one that cannot be solved by an individual community alone. Writing to your local government representative to advocate for clean air can have an impact on future regulations for large scale regional polluters, when enough support is shown. Host a letter writing party in your community to encourage participation. POTENTIAL PARTNERS GASP, The Breathe Project, and the local, state, and federal government. COST No cost. CAPACITY This can be an individual action or a community-wide campaign.

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COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN Our top strategies and notes from this section:

39


ENGAGE INFORM PLAN

ACTIVATE

ENCOURAGE THE COMMUNITY TO TAKE ACTION TO IMPROVE THE AIR QUALITY IN THEIR COMMUNITY.

SCALE

SMALL WINS Keep the momentum going in your community with small wins that are quick and relatively easy to accomplish.

Once your community air quality action plan is complete, it is time to activate your community. Encourage shared ownership of the action plan by celebrating its completion as a community and by engaging residents to contribute to its implementation.

Activate your air quality action plan with:

LAUNCH EVENT Establish a No Idling Policy

Host a launch event for the action plan. Have copies of the action plan available for attendees to read, post excerpts of the plan on the wall, provide information for attendees to take home, and provide ways for attendees to sign-up and participate in the plan’s implementation.

COMMITMENT POSTCARDS Develop air quality commitment postcards for attendees to fill out at the launch event. Encourage them to select one to three ways in which they as individuals will contribute to the community’s goals by measuring how air pollution effects the community, by minimizing sources of and exposure to air pollution, and/or by creating an informed and activated air quality culture in your community.

Ban smoking

Participate in ROCIS

DEVELOP A WORKPLAN Now that the action plan is complete, how is your community going to accomplish the initiatives in the plan? Develop a workplan that includes responsible parties, timeline for implementation, costs, and funding sources.

Start an afterschool air quality program

Host an Open Streets Event

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SMALL WINS Community air quality action plans can take years if not decades to fully implement. It is important to keep the momentum going in your community with quick projects that can be celebrated by everyone. Quick projects may not always have the biggest impact, but they show the community that progress is being made one step at a time.


ANNUAL AIR QUALITY CELEBRATION Individuals in your community will participate in the air quality planning and implementation process at varying levels. Some are interested only in attending meetings and providing feedback and others will stay engaged once the plan is complete to assist in action plan implementation. Host an annual event to re-engage community members that have not been part of the process in awhile. This event is an opportunity to provide an update on the community air quality plan, progress made since its completion, and upcoming projects and opportunities. Celebrate your community’s successes and acknowledge those who are involved. Invite air quality partners to share information about themselves and the services they can provide to community members. Include fun activities to keep attendees engaged.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE REGION As mentioned previously, when we work together we can create change that is exponentially more impactful. One community alone cannot change our region’s air quality, but collaboration between communities can make a big difference. Invite neighboring communities to join your community as you engage in the air quality planning and implementation process. Document your process and completed plan online. Speak at regional and national conferences about your experience. Invite neighboring communities to attend your annual air quality celebration. Offer to speak at one of your neighboring community’s Council, community development, or other meetings to share your lessons learned and encourage them to embark on a similar journey of their own. The more we work together, the greater impact we will have.

Community Air Toolkit | 41


ENGAGE INFORM PLAN ACTIVATE

SCALE

PARTNER WITH ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN IMPLEMENT MORE COMPLEX AND TECHNICAL RECOMMENDATIONS.

AIR QUALITY PARTNERS Working with an air quality partner can provide many benefits to your community, including:

Technical and scientific expertise

Capacity

There is a lot that a community can accomplish on their own, however, there is value in performing an in-depth planning study that is more specific to your community and includes specific place-based recommendations. Performing in-depth planning and/or working with air quality partners will help your community identify recommendations that have a greater impact than what you are able to accomplish on your own. To do this, we recommended partnering with organizations or practitioners who have experience with this type of work, such as New Sun Rising and evolveEA. There are certain recommendations that can come out of this planning process that will require an air quality partner to help with implementation. Examples of projects that require strong partnerships are listed on the adjacent page. A list of potential air quality partners in Western Pennsylvania are listed below. Western Pennsylvania Air Quality Partners:

Access to funding and resources

Access to technology and monitoring equipment

Years of experience

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After implementing the strategies in your community air quality action plan, it is time to scale your community’s impact by performing in-depth planning and partnering with air quality experts.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

New Sun Rising evolveEA Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) The Breathe Project Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab University of Pittsburgh National Academy of Sciences & The National Academy of Engineering Women for a Healthy Environment Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces (ROCIS) Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) Sierra Club Conservation Consultants, Inc. (CCI) Grow Pittsburgh Tree Pittsburgh Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) Landforce Healthy Ride BikePGH Grounded


COST

IMPACT

TIME

Consider pursuing some of the following projects with an air quality partner, or develop your own! INSTALL A REAL-TIME AIR QUALITY DASHBOARD (DIGITAL AND/ OR PHYSICAL). A real-time air quality dashboard can make air quality data collected throughout the community readily accessible and easy to understand. Accessing air quality data over a period of time will raise awareness in the community and provide a baseline for the community to measure against moving forward. The dashboard can be highly visible or available online or through a smartphone app. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Universities, The Breathe Project, New Sun Rising, and evolveEA. COST Cost varies depending on how the dashboard is implemented and the number of sensors. CAPACITY This requires assistance from consultants and/or experts, with limited maintenance.

WORK WITH HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS TO TRACK HEALTH DATA. Poor air quality can have a big impact on our health. As communities continue to implement programs, policies, and projects to improve air quality and raise awareness, communities can track health data to understand how it evolves over time in relation to these initiatives. It is very difficult to correlate changes in health with air quality at this scale, but working with healthcare providers to track the data is a good start. POTENTIAL PARTNERS UPMC, Highmark, Women for a Healthy Environment, Universities, and public health institutions. COST This is a low/no cost initiative. CAPACITY The success of this initiative depends on collaboration between communities and partner health-related organizations.

PARTNER WITH NON-PROFITS FOR HOME AND BUSINESS WEATHERIZATION CONSULTATIONS AND KITS.

Communities can partner with organizations and programs such as Grounded’s ReEnergize Program, where residents are trained to assist other residents in weatherizing their homes and learning about energy efficiency. Another potential partner is CCI, who can assist to make energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits. POTENTIAL PARTNERS CCI, Grounded COST Depends on the improvements made. CAPACITY Limited to promote the program(s).

PARTNER WITH LOCAL UNIVERSITIES TO INCREASE TESTING POINTS IN THE COMMUNITY.

Communities can work with Universities such as Carnegie Mellon University to install monitors for air quality data collection and to perform experiments and studies about air quality. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh COST This is a low/no cost initiative, unless the community is purchasing the air quality monitors themselves, which can vary in cost. CAPACITY The success of this initiative depends on collaboration between communities and area universities.

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TIME

COST

IMPACT

DEVELOP A CLEAN AIR HUB.

Communities can transform a portion of their library, community center, or other community space into a Clean Air Hub. This hub can include information about indoor air quality best practices, resources, air quality and radon monitors that can be borrowed, the community’s live outdoor air quality dashboard, and other information to educate and activate residents. Additionally, it can have a modern filtration system to provide clean air for sensitive populations on air quality action days. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Library, community center, or other community space. COST Depends on the scale and variety of resources that will be provided. CAPACITY Work with air quality experts and partners.

WORK WITH ARTISTS TO CREATE AIR QUALITY RELATED INSTALLATIONS.

Communities can develop an air quality artists residency program, where artists work with local experts to develop installations that educate the public about air quality issues and contribute to placemaking. POTENTIAL PARTNERS Universities and artist collaboratives COST Depends on the scale of the program and installations. CAPACITY Work with Universities and artist networks to recruit participants.

CONSTRUCT A VILLAGE GREEN AIR MONITORING STATION.

The Village Green Project is a community-based activity that demonstrates the capabilities of new realtime monitoring technology. Village Green projects collect data and educate residents and citizen scientists about local air quality. The station consists of a solar and/or wind powered park bench structure, equipped with instruments that provide minute-to-minute air measurements for ozone, particulate pollution, and weather conditions. The stations measure PM2.5 and ozone and the data is provided online.33 POTENTIAL PARTNERS EPA Village Green, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and the National Academy of Sciences. COST The EPA provides a list of components that vary in cost, or the community can design their own version of a Village Green station. CAPACITY The system requires technical skills to build. Once constructed, it will require occasional maintenance.

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COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN Our top strategies and notes from this section:

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GLOSSARY Definitions are from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criteria Air Pollutants are six air pollutants that have been identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as being particularly harmful and widespread. They consist of Particulate Pollution (PM), Sulfur Oxides (SOx), Ozone (O3), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Lead (Pb), and Carbon Monoxide (CO). These pollutants are found all over the U.S. and can harm your health and the environment. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are standards established through the Clean Air Act for the six criteria pollutants. When pollutants exceed these standards the air quality can be considered harmful to the public and the environment. Particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope. The number next to the abbreviation for particulate matter (PM) refers to the diameter of the particle. The smaller the size, the deeper the particle can penetrate into the body and blood stream, making it more harmful for human health. Ground-level ozone (O3) is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, elders, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone can also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation and ecosystems. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be harmful when inhaled in large amounts. CO is released when something is burned. The greatest sources of CO to outdoor air are cars, trucks, and other vehicles or machinery that burn fossil fuels. A variety of items in your home such as unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, and gas stoves also release CO and can affect air quality indoors. Sulfur Oxides (SOx) refers to the entire group of sulfur oxides (SOx). SO2 is the component of greatest concern and is used as the indicator for the larger group of gaseous sulfur oxides (SOx). Emissions that lead to high concentrations of SO2 generally also lead to the formation of other SOx. The largest sources of SO2 emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities. Smaller sources of SO2 emissions include: industrial processes such as extracting metal from ore; natural sources such as volcanoes; and locomotives, ships and other vehicles and heavy equipment that burn fuel with a high sulfur content. Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) include nitrous acid and nitric acid. NO2 is used as the indicator for the larger group of nitrogen oxides. NO2 primarily gets in the air from the burning of fuel. NO2 forms from emissions from cars, trucks and buses, power plants, and off-road equipment. Lead (Pb) emissions can come from a variety sources. At the national level, major sources of lead in the air are ore and metals processing and piston-engine aircraft operating on leaded aviation fuel. Other sources are waste incinerators, utilities, and lead-acid battery manufacturers. The highest air concentrations of lead are usually found near lead smelters. Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the decay of uranium that is naturally occurring and commonly present in rocks and soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into a home through pathways in ground contact floors and walls. Molds are part of the natural environment, and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold is not usually a problem, unless it begins growing indoors. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions) and irritants. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

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Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature and has a strong odor. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause adverse health effects. Formaldehyde is found in resins, building materials and insulation, household products, preservatives, and fertilizers and pesticides. It is also a byproduct of combustion and certain other natural processes. The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing air containing off-gassed formaldehyde. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in the air that has off-gassed from products, including composite wood products. Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers. Pesticides are chemicals that are used to kill or control pests which include bacteria, fungi and other organisms, in addition to insects and rodents. Pesticides are inherently toxic. They are sold as sprays, liquids, sticks, powders, crystals, balls and foggers. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. VOCs are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Fuels are made up of VOCs. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.

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Community Air Toolkit - New Sun Rising  

The ideas in this Community Air Toolkit were developed as part of the Millvale Ecodistrict (2012) and Millvale Ecodistrict Pivot 2.0 Plannin...

Community Air Toolkit - New Sun Rising  

The ideas in this Community Air Toolkit were developed as part of the Millvale Ecodistrict (2012) and Millvale Ecodistrict Pivot 2.0 Plannin...

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