Vehicles spewing exhaust are not only unpleasant they also make the air unhealthy to breathe. Smoke is made up of tiny particles that can lodge in our lungs. Studies have shown these small particles are a major contributor to respiratory diseases. The San Francisco Bay area has a serious problem with air pollution and cars cause most of the problem (Fireplaces are second). The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is tackling this challenge in several ways:
- 1-800-EXHAUST(www.baaqmd.gov/exhaust/) is a program for reporting smoking vehicles that receives 65,000 calls annually about vehicles that emit excessive exhaust. BAAQMD tells offenders that smoking vehicles generate 20 to 30 percent of the soot in our air - 10 to 15 times more pollution than well-tuned vehicles. Seventy percent of the toxic risk from air pollution is from particulate matter. Diesel vehicles may emit some smoke on acceleration but they should not smoke constantly. All vehicles, including diesels, have the same smoking vehicle laws and should be reported.
- Buy a better car. Greener choices are available in every segment of the vehicle market. Before you buy your next car, check out the California Air Resources Board Buyer's guide to Cleaner Cars at www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/ccbg/ccbg.htm to find the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicles.
- The BAAQMD Vehicle Buy Back program will pay $500 for an operating and registered 1981 and earlier model year vehicle. This voluntary program scraps older vehicles that would otherwise likely remain on the roads.
- The Spare the Air program (www.sparetheair.org) was established in 1991 to educate the public about air pollution and promote individual behavior changes that improve air quality. Over 1700 local business and governmental agencies, including the City of Concord, educate employees about pollution prevention and modify operations when a Spare the Air day is called.
- The Carl Moyer Program reimburses companies for some or all of the incremental purchase costs of lower-emission heavy-duty engines.
- The Bay Area Clean Air Plan(www.rides.org) contains a variety of transportation control measures to help the region reduce motor vehicle travel by promoting the use of mass transit, carpooling and vanpooling, and bicycling and walking.