Auntie Litter, Inc. has served on the Education Committee of the Alabama Partners for Clean Air since 1998 for the Voluntary Ozone Emissions Reduction Action Program for the Birmingham Nonattainment Area set by the EPA. Each year, Auntie Litter and APCA have created innovative programs and materials for all schools within Jefferson and Shelby Counties. Our objective is to educate the children, so they will understand the causes of air pollution, how it affects their lungs, and what they and their families can do to help reduce harmful emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that a major source of air pollution is vehicles idling while at schools and drive-thru windows. When sunlight and heat mixes with car fumes, it can create a dangerous level of gas and fumes creating particle pollution (year round) and ground level ozone (May-Sept.). Children’s lungs are not completely developed and are most at risk.
Clean Air Programs
As an extension of its multi-layered Idle Free Zone program,Auntie Litter, Inc. continues its mission to address Birmingham’s poor air quality ratings by reaching out to schools within Jefferson and Shelby Counties. The campaign, “Be a Solution to the Pollution!” kicked off in 2009 with a massive distribution of activity pages for students. School Administrators received APCA bags, calendar magnets and Air Quality Index guides to help them understand air quality ratings. As the lead education organization for the Alabama Partners for Clean Air (APCA) since 1998, Auntie Litter aims to remind drivers to reduce harmful emissions by turning off engines while waiting for school to be dismissed.
A letter from Dr. Joseph B. Morton, the Alabama State Superintendent of Education, encouraged all school systems in the two-county area to participate in the Idle Free Zone program. To date, the school districts of Jefferson County, Shelby County, Bessemer, Birmingham, Leeds, Mountain Brook, Hoover, Tarrant, Midfield and Vestavia Hills have signed on to have signs installed near school carpool lanes that read, “Do Your Share for Cleaner Air, Turn the Key Be Idle Free.” Participating principals have also been working with Auntie Litter diligently to complete carpool surveys that will allow Auntie Litter and APCA to assess ways to help School Administrators address school traffic issues.
What is Particle Pollution?
Particle pollution is a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in the air. This pollution, also know as particulate matter, is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens (such as fragments of pollen and mold spores).
The size of the particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get into your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Larger particles are of less concern, although they can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.
Small particles of concern include “fine particles” (such as those found in smoke and haze), which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less; and “coarse particles” (such as those found in wind-blown dust), which have diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers.
Airborne particles, the main ingredient of haze, smoke, and airborne dust, present serious air quality problems in many areas of the United States. This particle pollution can occur year-round and it can cause a number of serious health problems, even at concentrations found in many major cities. (Particles can contribute to haze over a city)
Idle Free Zone Program As the educational arm for the Alabama Partners for Clean Air (APCA), Auntie Litter, Inc. has developed a number of health initiatives, including its current “Idle Free Zone” program. This program includes installation of idle-free zone signs that read, “Do Your Share for Cleaner Air, Turn the Key Be Idle Free” on school campuses to prevent ground-level ozone. The campaign also provides school programs for students and is developing an incentive program that will reward parents when they refrain from idling their vehicles on school grounds or in drive-thru lanes. To find out how your school can install an “Idle Free Zone”, e-mail us. Join the campaign for clean air. Here’s how you can help!
- Avoid Idling engines while waiting in line
- Carpool, ride the bus, bike or walk
- Combine errands
- Refuel cars after 6 pm and prevent spills
- Keep cars properly tuned and tires inflated
- Conserve electricity
- Do not burn trash or leaves
How is the air today?
Plan your activities for the day by checking the Daily Air Quality Index at www.AlabamaCleanAir.org from April – October.
On Orange alert days, sensitive groups (very young children, the elderly, anyone suffering from asthma or other respiratory ailment) should stay indoors and avoid high-exertion outdoor activities.
On Red and Purple Alert Days, EVERYONE should stay indoors. Sports practices, outdoor play and any outdoor activities should be moved indoors.
According to the American Lung Associations’ Facts on Childhood Asthma:
- Vehicle related air pollution can cause asthma and other respiratory problems and allergies
- Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15
- Children are at a higher risk because they breathe at a faster rate than adults
- Children exposed to air pollution may not develop their full lung capacity
Win $25 from Auntie Litter and APCA
If you live in Jefferson or Shelby Counties of Alabama and have children in school, please answer this short survey.
If you give us your name, address, phone number and e-mail address while completing the survey, you will be entered into monthly drawing for a $25 gas card.
Only one entry per household per month. Auntie Litter, Inc. will not share your personal information with any other business, agency or entity and will be used for reporting purposes only. CommuteSmart Parents, do you want to get paid to commute to work? The CommuteSmart program finds carpool partners for you and rewards you with gas cards. Visit http://www.commutesmarter.org/birmingham/index.html to learn how to participate.