Air Quality Awareness Week

May 2 – May 6, 2022

Monday, May 2: Ozone and New Jersey Air Quality Flag Program

Poor air quality affects each one of us. But those impacted most include those with heart or lung conditions, the old and young, and those who work or play outdoors.

Air quality has improved over time in New Jersey. Yet, we still need to improve public health. This is especially evident with our most persistent pollutant, ozone.

The New Jersey Air Quality Flag Program increases awareness of ozone and particulate matter pollution.

The program uses colored flags to notify people about air quality conditions. It will especially benefit at-risk communities and areas affected by air pollution.

Each day, participants display the flag that corresponds to their local air quality forecast. Community members can then change outdoor activities to protect their health.

How to Participate

  • Sign up for the NJ Air Quality Flag Program Eligible organizations will receive a set of flags and educational toolkit at no cost. DEP staff will contact you to assist you in implementing the program.
  • Sign up for Enviroflash Each day, Enviroflash will email or text your local air quality forecast.
  • Display the Flag Display a flag that represents the air quality forecasted for that day. The flag colors match the EPA’s Air Quality Index: green, yellow, orange, red, and purple.

Participants include

  • Schools
  • Summer camps
  • Daycare centers
  • Senior centers
  • Municipalities
  • Community centers
  • Organizations
  • Environmental justice communities
  • Regulated entities

For more information, visit New Jersey Air Quality Flag Program.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to NJDEP- Air Quality Awareness Week.

Tuesday, May 3: Regional Haze and Visibility

New Jersey’s Brigantine Wilderness Area in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge has special air quality protections. Under the Clean Air Act, it is a Federal Class I area. These areas have goals to reduce haze and improve visibility. Class I areas include some national parks, wilderness areas and memorial parks.

Haze results from air pollutants that absorb and scatter sunlight. Many air pollution sources located over a wide area cause regional haze, it is not just from one source. Haze pollutants include industry and motor vehicle caused sulfur dioxide and fine particles. But some haze occurs naturally due to dust, fog, and wildfire smoke.

The Clean Air Act seeks to address the portion of haze contributed by man-made pollution and restore visibility to Class I areas.

The Brigantine Wilderness Area is located in Atlantic County, north of Atlantic city. Migratory birds and waterfowl use this unique and valuable resource as their east coast stop-over point. Over 290 different species of birds have been observed within the wilderness area.

The peak season for bird migration is in early November. Over 100,000 ducks and geese have been seen in the saltwater marshes of the refuge during this time. The refuge attracts over 300,000 visitors per year. They watch the birds or enjoy the scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Great Bay, Little Bay, Reeds Bay, and Little Egg Harbor area.

New Jersey has made significant strides to increase visibility at Brigantine Wilderness Area. Efforts include reducing sulfur dioxide emissions, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter from some of our largest sources.

You can help reduce regional haze

  • Drive less
  • Walk more
  • Ride your bicycle
  • Carpool to work or school
  • Take public transportation
  • Do not idle your cars for more than 3 minutes. It is the law
  • Use cleaner wood-burning practices
  • Consider high energy efficient models, when it is time to update your HVAC system or water heaters

Learn more about regional haze.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to NJDEP- Air Quality Awareness Week

Wednesday, May 4: Renewable Energy

100% of all New Jersey electricity will need to be generated from clean energy sources by 2050. The 2019 Energy Master Plan highlights the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard as a key market mechanism to buildout renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Offshore Wind

New Jersey has a target of 7,500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy by 2035. In June 2021, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities awarded 2,658 MW of offshore wind capacity to EDF/Shell’s Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Ørsted’s Ocean Wind II, bringing the State’s total planned capacity to over 3,700 MW.

In February 2022, the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management furthered the State’s commitment to offshore wind resources. They gathered $4.37 billion dollars in bids for leases on 488,000 acres of ocean between New Jersey and Long Island. Learn more about the wind energy auction.

For more information, see the New Jersey Offshore Wind Strategic Plan.

Community Solar

Over 150,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey have solar panels. For those who had been unable to go solar, the BPU created the Community Solar Program. Electric utility customers can participate in the Community Solar Program and benefit from renewable energy.

For more information, visit the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.

For more information on climate change and how can you help, visit Climate Change Take Action.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to NJDEP- Air Quality Awareness Week.

Thursday, May 5: Clean Transportation

Transportation, the largest source of air pollution in New Jersey, accounts for 79% of nitrogen oxides from manmade sources, 23% of fine particulate pollution and 41% of net greenhouse gases. These pollutants impact our most sensitive residents such as the old and young and those with heart and lung conditions.

You can help reduce emissions from your vehicle – work remotely, or bike, walk, carpool, or use public transit. You can also switch to an electric vehicle and drive green.

To help you save money on transitioning to an electric vehicle, NJ has state rebates, tax incentives and grants.  Grants are available for public and private charging stations, as well as to replace old diesel vehicles and to purchase personal EVs. Utility companies offer incentives like the PSE&G Electric Vehicle Charging Program and Atlantic City Electric EV Smart Rebates to install EV chargers at home, and lower electricity rates for off-peak charging to help keep your bill low. With state incentives and the Federal Tax Credit for all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, you could be eligible for up to $15,480 depending on the vehicle price and battery range.

Learn more about electric vehicle incentives.

Explore electric cars at Drive Change. Drive Electric and PlugStar EV explorer.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to NJDEP- Air Quality Awareness Week.

Friday, May 6 - Environmental Justice and Air Quality

The Environmental Justice Law, one of the strongest and most empowering in the nation, was signed by Governor Murphy on September 18, 2020, requiring DEP to identify overburdened communities and certain facilities to assess their environmental and public health impacts on overburdened communities to help reduce and mitigate these impacts on the residents living there.

Air quality is important in overburdened communities because they are impacted most by pollution. Some disparities include the disproportionate concentration of air pollution and toxics with possible health impacts including asthma, cancer, and heart diseases.

Environmental justice aims to address this disparity and ensure a fair treatment for all – regardless of race, color, national origin, or income – with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Environmental justice also provides the opportunity for people to be involved in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and health. DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice addresses environmental concerns to improve the quality of life in overburdened communities. The office also guides other state agencies in incorporating environmental justice.

Get involved and support environmental justice in your community by taking the following actions:

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to NJDEP- Air Quality Awareness Week.