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What’s a Clean Air Action Day?


The summer sun is here to stay. While the warmest months of summer are upon us, it’s also the time of year to take action to reduce emissions of ozone-causing pollutants. That’s right, we’re talking about Clean Air Action Days! While many of you know that fares are waived on The Rapid during designated Clean Air Action Days, many of you may not be aware of how these air quality days are designated.

What’s a Clean Air Action Day?

Clean Air Action Days aren’t just designated based on high temperatures. A Clean Air Action Day is declared by the West Michigan Clean Air Coalition when weather conditions are likely to combine with pollution emissions to form high levels of ozone near the ground that may cause harmful health effects. There are many factors that contribute to a Clean Air Action Day, including high temperatures, light wind, no rain, and/or a wind direction blowing in polluted air from another area.

Interested in keeping up with Clean Air Action Days? You can check West Michigan Clean Air Coalition’s website for a two-day forecast of air quality:

What You Can Do To Help

Since breathing ozone can cause damage to lungs, as well as chest pain, coughing and throat irritation, people with respiratory diseases like asthma are encouraged to limit outdoor activity during times of poor air quality. The West Michigan Clean Air Coalition encourages people and businesses to take action like not riding in single occupancy vehicles, filling up the gas tank, or mowing the lawn to reduce emissions of ozone-causing pollutants during these times. Opting to ride the bus instead of driving your car is a great way to make an impact during Clean Air Action Days.

Did you know? Operating a gasoline-powered outboard motorboat for one hour produces as much ozone-causing VOCs as driving a car from Grand Rapids to New York City (about 800 miles).  Each individual action is important.  The cumulative actions of two million households can have a strong impact.

How Are Fares Covered During Clean Air Action Days?

The Rapid is reimbursed for fare revenue on Clean Air Action Days.  Because the Grand Rapids region is classified as a non-attainment area, meaning there are times when our air quality falls below the federal clean air standard, we have grants in place from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program.  These funds can be used for several things to help improve air quality, and one of them is offering free bus service to encourage the use of public transportation.  Reducing auto emissions is a great way to help reduce particulate matter (pollution) in the air we all breathe.  This is why people are also encouraged to forgo mowing and filling the gas tank—these activities also generate particulate matter.  So The Rapid is able to help contribute to cleaner air without losing out on fare revenue—it’s a win-win!

For more information about Clean Air Action Days, visit West Michigan Clean Air Action Coalition.

Written by The Rapid

The Rapid (Interurban Transit Partnership) is the authority that provides a variety of public transportation services for the Grand Rapids metro area and beyond. It is organized and operates under Michigan Public Act 196 of 1986.