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Spare the Air

What You Can Do:
"SPARE THE AIR" Action Days

In order to improve air quality, Knox County Air Quality Management has established a voluntary initiative called Spare the Air. The Spare the Air campaign provides information to citizens who are concerned about reducing air pollution. These citizens, recognizing that they as individuals are contributors to the diminished quality of the air, are willing to alter their activities in order to reduce emissions.

A Spare the Air Action Day typically occurs when highly degraded air quality is anticipated: negative health effects could be especially aggravated during an Action Day . Since air quality conditions may be cumulative across regional boundaries and diurnal time periods, individual and corporate adopters of the Spare the Air initiative approach each day as an Action Day and reduce the pollutants before they are emitted.

The Spare the Air campaign allows a two (2) path approach to improving air quality:

By adopting the attitude that each day is an Action Day , the total amount of emissions in the air is reduced. Since many of the emissions are actually precursors (things that react with and/or catalyze into the pollutants which have a negative environmental and health effects), lower quantities of these emissions yield lower concentrations of reaction- or catalyst-generated pollution. Proactive adoption of the Spare the Air initiative changes behaviors that produce the emissions even on days of acceptable air quality and is, therefore, an investment toward improving air quality for the long-term future.


Individuals and corporations that do not actively engage in the Spare the Air regiment should be inclined to use the Spare the Air activities when an Action Day is advised. An Action Day generally is declared when the quality of the air has degraded to the point that responsible citizens should be willing to make changes in activities until air quality is improved and the episode of diminished air quality is over. The cumulative effects and regional spread of pollutants may be reduced by taking the minimal (and ostensibly temporary) approach. Since even small reductions in emissions help in improving air quality, helping to stabilize the negative environmental and health effects during an Action Day can contribute to better air quality in the short-term future.

Action Days...At Home

When doing yard work, try to use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment whenever possible. Use lawn rakes, non-motorized push mowers, hand edger's, and other hand tools. Delay the mowing of the lawn and trimming until cooler and cloudier days. If you must use gas-powered equipment, wait until after 6 p.m. or closer to dusk.

Try to use simple environmentally sound substitutes for cleaning and for pest control ( e.g. , vinegar, baking soda, and borax). Use all household products and insecticides according to the manufacturer's directions.

  • Compost your yard wastes.
  • When you barbecue with charcoal, start the charcoal with an electric or chimney-type fire starter instead of using lighter fluid.
  • Insulate your home, it will reduce summer cooling costs and winter heating bills.
  • Caulk and weather-strip your doors and windows.
  • Use your ceiling fans rather than air-conditioning whenever possible. Try to set the thermostat for your home air conditioner at the lowest setting that is comfortable. When everyone is away or asleep, set the thermostat at a warmer temperature.
  • Close off unused areas of your home to reduce cooling needs.
  • Use natural light or lighting that generates less heat.
  • Buy energy efficient appliances. Turn off appliances when they are not being used.
  • Use paint brushes or rollers instead of spray-painting to reduce the evaporation of paint
  • Choose water-based paints, stains, and sealers instead of similar oil-based products. If you must use oil-based coatings, ask about the availability of low-solvent versions.
  • Plant trees. They filter the air and shade your home to reduce cooling needs.
  • Recycle. It takes less energy and pollution to recycle many articles than it does to make new ones from raw materials.
  • Participate in your local utility's energy conservation programs such as green power, insulation loans, and home inspections. "Green power" is electric power drawn from renewable resources that have a minimal impact on the environment
Action Days...At Work
  • Take your lunch or walk to a nearby restaurant. This reduces the number of vehicles on the road during the daylight hours. Organize deliveries from popular restaurants to your department.
  • Ask where the Air Quality Health Advisories and Spare the Air Action Day notices are posted.
  • Ask your workplace environmental issues coordinator what programs are available.
  • Use teleconferencing instead of driving to meetings.
  • Turn off delivery vehicles when loading or unloading for extended periods of time. Idling for long periods uses more fuel than stopping and starting your engine.
  • Coordinate deliveries from your site to eliminate multiple vehicle trips using "trip linking" techniques.
Action Days...On the Road
  • Share a ride or take public transportation to avoid single occupancy vehicles. Take a bus, carpool, and walk or ride your bike to your destination. For more information go to:
  • Park and walk into drive-through locations rather than idling. Avoid sudden stops and starts, and avoid idling for long periods of time. Idling can waste fuel and contribute to higher ground-level ozone.
  • Consolidate trips by "trip linking" when you drive ( e.g. , do errands on the way home from work). Plan your trips so that you combine short trips to reduce the total distance traveled. A cold engine consumes about 20 percent more fuel than a warm one.
  • Maintain your vehicle by getting regular tune-ups. Engines that are well maintained are more fuel-efficient and emit less air pollutants. Get a tune-up once a year. Don't forget your personal watercraft and other recreational vehicles.
  • Keep filters and fluids cleaned.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Low pressure reduces gas mileage and the life of the tire.
  • Use high-efficiency motor oil. "EC-II" rated oil can provide a 2.7 percent gas mileage boost.
  • Postpone the refueling your car until after 6:00 p.m. or closer to dusk. This reduces the emissions during the peak daylight hours when ground-level ozone formation is most likely. Don't top the tank after the pump has automatically shut itself off to avoid spills of gasoline and unnecessary VOC emissions. Always tighten your gas cap securely.
  • Try not to use the air conditioning in your car for local trips. Your car's air conditioner can reduce gas mileage up to 20 percent. An exception to this would be when traveling on interstates or other roads at 55 mph or faster. Under those conditions, the resistance created from open windows probably reduces gas mileage by about the same amount.
  • Driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph can increase your mileage by over 15 percent.
  • When you do drive your car, use cruise control whenever practical and stay within the speed limit.
  • Are you buying a new car? Consider getting a model rated to get 35 mpg or more.

Air Quality

Main Office
Suite 242
140 Dameron Ave,
Knoxville, TN 37917

865-215-5900 phone
865-215-5902 fax
865-215-2497 tdd
Air Info Line
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Department Email