Natural gas and propane substantially reduce greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions such as Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrous Oxide and particulate matter. Both are hydrocarbons; natural gas (CH4) contains only one (1) carbon molecule; propane (C3H8) contains three (3) carbon molecules. Comparatively, gasoline contains eight (8) carbon molecules.
Natural gas and propane are approved clean fuels listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 1992. They are two of the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels. Both are non-toxic and free of lead, benzene and sulfur, so they won’t harm air, soil or water. Tests conducted by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prove that natural gas or propane-fueled vehicles produce approximately 60% fewer carbon monoxide emissions and about 50% fewer toxins and other smog-producing emissions (compared to gasoline engines). Natural gas and propane-powered equipment allows users to safely operate in enclosed environments without the use of a breathing apparatus and comply with Ozone Action Days.
An Ozone Action Day, which can be declared by a Local Municipality, County or State government, is observed at certain times during summer months (typically), when weather conditions run the risk of causing health concerns (e.g. air stagnation, heat, humidity, smog, etc).
Ozone Action Days (a.k.a. Clean Air Alerts) primarily occur in Midwestern portions of the U.S.; particularly in well-urbanized areas such as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis. An Ozone Action Day may be announced with as few as one day advance notice – leaving commercial enterprises such as golf courses and landscapers precious little time for planning. Government entities monitor weather conditions and the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is divided into six levels: the higher the number (on a scale of 0 – 300), the more severe the ozone threat air quality index.
Heavy industries make up a relatively high percentage of pollutants causing ‘ground ozone’. Without drastically altering or eliminating industrial production in an area altogether, air quality improvements are very slight, though noticeable. Non-industrial pollutants, while not thought of to be a major pollutant group, can be more easily influenced with more positive change occurring.
Basic steps in limiting ground ozone during Ozone Action Days are:
- Controlling auto emissions and ensure that automotive exhaust systems properly function
- Eliminate excessive engine idling
- Whenever possible, avoid unnecessary driving
- Limit refueling between the hours of 6:00 PM and 8:00 AM
- Use public transportation (some cities may provide free bus service during Ozone Action Days)
- Limit the use of lawn mowers and outdoor grills to after 6:00 PM
- Limit the use of aerosol cans