By Courtney Ehrlich
We could all use a little fresh air, agreed? But it’s not just right now that it’s important to step outside, go for a walk, and find some clear headspace among the uncertainty of the current events. Raveling in the fresh air was paramount to us Salt Lake Valley folks, even before the pandemic. We value clean, fresh air, but we also know that our air in the valley can sometimes be far from fresh and clean. There are things we can all do collectively to make a big difference in terms of our air quality and the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is back with another voluntary air quality initiative to help us all breathe some fresh air…now, and post-pandemic.
DAQ is partnering with Home Depot to expand our popular spring lawn mower exchange to include an online way for homeowners to go green(er). We are offering a $150 discount code to the first 1,200 people who register for the DAQ’s online Electric Lawn Mower Discount Program. Registration will open at noon on Monday, April 6, 2020, at lawnmower.utah.gov and will close when all 1,200 codes are claimed. Discount codes will be emailed to qualifying participants and must be put toward the online purchase of a battery-powered lawn mower of $299 or more at homedepot.com. In order to qualify, you must live in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated non-attainment area for summertime ozone; Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, and Weber counties.
Living in a non-attainment area for ozone means you live in a place that does not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The NAAQS for ozone is 70 ppb. The Salt Lake non-attainment area exceeds this standard in the summertime with levels around 77 ppb. Ozone is quite dangerous as it cannot be seen or smelled and exposure can have adverse effects on our bodies. Some scientists compare breathing ozone to getting a sunburn on your lungs. As humans, our daily lives contribute to the formation of ozone, but the silver lining is, if we cause it, we can also mitigate it by changing our behavior.
The recipe for ozone is really simple and made up primarily of three ingredients. Ozone forms when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react with sunlight. NOx is a product of exhaust from engines in things like cars, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and trimmers. Gasoline is a source of VOCs. In order to lower ozone levels, we will need to lower our inventory of some ingredients — and sunlight is not an option.
I don’t know about you, but I love living in a place with such an emphasis on and love for the outdoors. It’s why I moved here. Utah culture loves to be outside, ride bikes, hike, walk dogs, but the very things that keep us healthy and active on sunny days might also be hurting us if we are being exposed to exceptional levels of ozone at the same time. This is especially true for people with asthma, heart disease, or other health conditions which could be exacerbated with exposure.
In my opinion, ozone doesn’t tend to be talked about much, probably because we cannot see or smell it, so it’s easy to forget about it. The dangers of ozone should be anything but forgotten. We can be educated on how ozone forms, conditions which elicit high concentrations, where to find accurate ozone level reporting (air.utah.gov), and we can then avoid exposing ourselves to large doses, but ultimately we can help mitigate ozone production so we don’t have to worry about it so much.
So, on Monday, April 6th at noon, take a few minutes to register for your $150 discount code and get that new electric lawn mower you’ve been thinking about getting. After all, local health departments are encouraging yard work as a nice pandemic activity!
Electric Lawn Mower Discount Program
The Electric Lawn Mower Discount Program is not available in-store. A list of eligible lawn mowers can be found at lawnmower.utah.gov. Registration will end once all codes have been claimed. You will receive an email with your unique, one-time-use discount code within 24 hours of successful registration. Codes will expire on June 15, 2020. You must be a resident of a non-attainment area for summertime ozone to participate.
To receive the online coupon, participants must agree to and meet the following criteria:
- Must be 18 years old or older to participate
- Only one electric lawn mower per household may be purchased through this program
- Must be applied to the purchase of an electric lawn mower of $299 or more
- All participants must live in areas that regularly experience poor air quality as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Qualifying counties in Utah are as follows:
- Davis County
- Salt Lake County
- Tooele County
- Utah County
- Weber County
Sign up at noon on Monday, April 6th before they’re all gone! lawnmower.utah.gov!
Some may say I’m a Utah-transplant. I am originally from the Midwest where I grew up in a self-sustaining family with strong environmental values. Since then, I have found myself all over the map understanding how people around the world develop and sustain relationships with our planet. I have spent the last few years diving into cultures in 24 countries and living in 4 of them. Before moving to Utah in 2018, I became a graduate of the University of Dundee in Scotland where I completed a postgraduate program in Sustainability and Climate Change. These days, though, you’ll find me on skis, a mountain bike, or in a tent somewhere in the mountains.