At our May Grow Smart CLT event, attendees were focused on air quality, and what they can do to improve the air we all breathe. We were excited to have staff from Mecklenburg County Air Quality Division at the event, collecting public input on the Division’s priorities for air quality. During the networking time before the program, attendees were able to provide input by dropping marbles into glass jars, each labelled with a different potential priority. The potential focus areas included transit expansion, complete streets, airport shuttle electrification, and much more. Air Quality Division will take that input and use it to help inform the initiatives they pursue next to improve our air quality.
We were also thrilled to have Sun Raised Farms at the event, handing out delicious food samples! Huge thanks to all the staff and owners for being part of the event!
Each member of our air quality panel brought their own perspective and opinions on what needs to be done (and what you can do) to clean our air. Megan Green with Mecklenburg County Air Quality Division shared some background on air quality in Mecklenburg Co. Our major source of air pollution is from mobile sources (read: cars and other vehicles), and the main components to be worried about are Nitrous Oxide (NOx) and ground-level ozone. Our county just reached compliance for safe ground-level ozone levels in 2017, now the work will be to reduce levels even further. One way Mecklenburg County is working towards that is by doing a diesel engine swap program that compensates people for switching out their diesel engines (particularly construction and other heavy equipment) for cleaner technology.
Dr. Stephen Keener MAHA spoke about the medical impacts of our unhealthy air, and what it does to our bodies and planet. He tied air quality and air pollution to climate change and the greater impacts a changing climate will have on our planet’s social, environmental, and economic systems.
Clean Air Carolina’s Terry Lansdell spoke strongly about both the need to take action personally, and hold our elected leaders accountable for our air quality. Terry encouraged everyone to try to increase their time using alternate methods of transportation, by even just a slim margin, to improve air quality.
Clay Grubb with Grubb Properties tied air quality and air pollution back to our city’s rapid growth and development. He said one tangible and impactful thing we can do to improve air quality is to change local development regulations to stop requiring as many parking spaces, so fewer people feel incentivized to own and drive cars.
What can you do?
If you want to take personal action to improve air quality you can take Terry’s advice and spend more time using alternative transportation instead of your personal vehicle. And since we know that’s a scary idea for many residents, Sustain Charlotte is working to ensure that Mecklenburg County has a connected, safe transportation network that allows people to get where they need to go without needing a car. If you also support this, please sign our #GetThereCLT petition today!