County program aims to Mow Down Pollution

Residents invited to trade in gas-powered lawn mowers for $150 vouchers toward electric replacements
By: 
CARY HINES, Assistant editor

Bob Huhn
communications supervisor
Maricopa County Air Quality Department
 

Anyone who has spent any time in the Valley of the Sun has no doubt seen our infamous brown cloud. It looms over us year round, but gets worse during the hot, summer months, namely April to September.
That’s because ground-level ozone increases.
To combat that, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department has instituted several pollution prevention initiatives, the latest of which being the Mowing Down Pollution program.
The program invites county residents to hand over their gas-powered lawn mowers in exchange for $150 vouchers toward the purchase of electric- or battery-powered mowers at participating Home Depots.
“Basically, we’re just trying to reduce air pollution produced by gasoline-powered lawnmowers,” said Bob Huhn, Maricopa County Air Quality Department communications supervisor.
The inaugural program launched June 4, and as of July 6, 498 vouchers had already been handed out.
Funding came from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Huhn said.
“They gave us $375,000,” Huhn said. “Next year, we (Maricopa County Air Quality) have it budgeted for the same amount so we can hope to continue it.”
The goal is to replace 2,500 gas-powered lawn mowers with electric- or battery-powered lawn mowers, Huhn said.
“If we do that, we’re helping reduce 21 tons of air pollution,” he said.
Huhn said the state has a huge ozone issue, and that two different types of ozone exist. One type occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The other type is tropospheric, or ground-level, ozone, which is not emitted directly into the air, but can be created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. NOx is emitted primarily by man-made sources such as vehicles, heavy construction equipment, industrial boilers and power plants. VOCs come from on- and off-road vehicle exhaust; gasoline storage and dispensing; solvents; consumer products; paints; industrial processes; and trees and shrubs. Ground-level ozone contributes to “smog” or haze, which occurs most frequently in the summertime because of the increased sunshine.
Even at relatively low levels, ozone can be harmful, according to cleanairmakemore.com. Breathing ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Ground-level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
“Everybody breathes the air,” Huhn said. “I’m assuming everyone knows someone who has respiratory issues. What we’re all trying to do with all these campaigns is help clean the air and make it as healthy for the residents as possible. So everybody’s working together on that.”
To participate in the Mowing Down Pollution program, go to http://cleanairmakemore.com/lawn/ and complete and submit an initial online voucher application. Then print and take two drop-off verification forms along with a working gasoline lawn mower to one of eight approved drop-off locations and have the forms signed and stamped by drop-off location staff. Next, submit the completed drop-off verification form to MCAQD and receive a $150 voucher to redeem at a participating Home Depot location. The closest participating Home Depot to readers of the Peoria Times is at 6160 W. Behrend Drive in Glendale.
Huhn said electric mowers typically range from $89 to $499, but program participants are encouraged to contact a participating Home Depot and inquire about specials because the home improvement store runs lawn mower sales throughout the summer.
For more information about the Maricopa County Mowing Down Pollution Program, visit http://cleanairmakemore.com/lawn/, call 602-506-LAWN (5296) or email lawn@mail.maricopa.gov.

The Glendale Star

The Glendale Star
7122 N. 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
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Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

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