• The Partners for Clean Air (PFCA) - is a voluntary organization of businesses, local governments and other entities in the Chicago area that take certain actions on Air Pollution Action Days. BOA forecasts Air Pollution Action Days based upon weather information and notifies the Partners, the public and media, urging them to take actions to help reduce emissions of volatile organic material (VOM) and PM. Such actions include staggered work hours to reduce rush hour traffic, telecommuting, and suspension of landscaping activities that involve use of small engines such as lawnmowers. Federal funds have been received from the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program to support our continued efforts of public education and outreach.
• Beginning June 1, 2007, the Air Pollution Action Day forecast criteria for PM2.5, was revised from a 40 ug/m3 daily average to a 35 ug/m3 daily value to accommodate the change to the PM2.5 NAAQS promulgated by USEPA in September 2006. On April 1, 2008, the Action Day forecast criteria for ozone was revised to 0.075 ppm in line with EPA’s revised NAAQS. These changes are expected to increase the number of Action Days declared per year, but offers more consistency with surrounding states.
The Illinois EPA recognizes the importance of integrating local communities in its efforts to improve air quality and to timely meet the federal national ambient air quality standards. These efforts include significant public education and outreach, specifically:
• Paid radio advertisements throughout the summer featuring Breathe Easy Man. Breathe Easy Man makes appearances at approximately 25 festivals, events, and news shows throughout the Chicagoland area, carrying the clean air message especially to children providing giveaways to promote clean air featuring Breathe Easy Man, including temporary tattoos, coloring books, stickers, and other educational material.
• Dedicated website that provides up to date information about air quality, www.cleantheair.org. This website receives over one million hits each year. Blast fax and e-mail services to notify the media, PFCA and interested citizens of Air Pollution Action Day declarations.
• A summer-long campaign, Green Pays on Green Days, which enlists individual citizens in the Chicago area to help reduce air pollution. The program includes a contest offering individuals an opportunity to commit to reducing air pollution, (www.greenpays.org), and have the chance to win a Toyota Prius or other environmentally friendly product donated by our sponsors. The Illinois EPA will continue to co-sponsor the Green Pays on Green Days educational program with the PCFA organization in FY2010.
In April, 2009, the Bureau also joined the EnviroFlash challenge issued by EPA to increase awareness of the EnviroFlash program which delivers air quality forecasts directly to individual’s email inboxes. Illinois was categorized in the largest metropolitan area, Category 5. At the end of the five week challenge, the Illinois EPA increased the number of EnviroFlash subscribers by more than 200%. The number of subscribers has continued to increase and there are now more than 300% over our starting membership in April. Individuals can receive air quality information for six regions in the state, Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Metro-East (St. Louis), and the recently added Rock Island-Moline area. The Bureau continues to reach out to residents throughout the State to increase the awareness of this air quality tool.
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