Idaho is known for its vast public lands and places to explore, and clean air is vital to enjoying these special places and the experiences they hold. The month of May is Clean Air Month, a time to celebrate the air quality improvements made since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970 and discuss how to protect and improve our air quality into the future. 

Clean air is at the heart of much of ICL’s work. ICL participates in collaborative groups to build healthy, resilient forests better suited to handle wildfires and climate change. It drives ICL’s ambition to make Idaho a leader in renewable energy and electrified transportation. And it’s the reason ICL strives to protect public health – by working to reduce air pollution from industrial activity and tracking any new laws or regulations that impact the air you breathe. 

Just this spring, the Idaho Clinicians for Climate Health held a walk in the Boise Foothills to raise awareness about climate change impacts to human health, particularly air quality and asthma. Nobody enjoys breathing in smoke from wildfires in the summer, but the degraded air quality has an even greater impact on people with asthma.

Clean air and wildfires go hand in hand, and in addition to being Clean Air Month, May is also Wildfire Awareness Month. Longer and more severe wildfire seasons are impacting air quality across Idaho. As we enter summer, many of us will start to keep an eye on the Air Quality Index (AQI) in our weather forecast. While spending time recreating outdoors is all many Idahoans want to do this time of year, wildfires across the state and beyond can make air quality unsafe, especially for those who are most vulnerable.

Wildfire smoke in downtown Boise.

Along with practicing wildfire prevention, there are other ways that individuals can help improve air quality in our communities. Transportation pollution is Idaho’s leading air quality and climate issue. 

There are many ways for you to reduce your transportation pollution. Riding your bicycle or using alternative modes of transportation to work can reduce your carbon footprint, and is a great way to be mindful of our impact on air quality year-round. If you’re unable to walk, bike, or use public transportation to get to where you’re going, try carpooling to reduce vehicle emissions.

To make an even bigger investment in healthier air quality, consider making the switch to an electric vehicle! Accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and powering them with clean energy produced right here in Idaho will significantly reduce air pollution in our communities. 

If you support EVs but don’t need a new car, reach out to your elected leaders and ask them to support EVs in Idaho by providing financial incentives for EV ownership, updating building codes so new construction is EV ready, or investing in more EV chargers. Idaho leaders know we must all work together to find solutions, and they need to hear from supporters like you.

An EV on display at an EV Expo in Pocatello in 2022.

Idahoans value healthy air for our families and future generations. If you’re looking for more ways to recognize Clean Air Month, consider some of these ways to care for our air:

  • Eliminate tobacco smoke
  • Reduce your use of wood stoves and fireplaces
  • Don’t burn candles, leaves, garbage, plastic or rubber

Just like our health, clean air is priceless. It’s worth a lot to know that our kids, grandparents, and those most vulnerable among us are safe from toxic air pollutants. And our state’s most special places wouldn’t be possible without clean air. 

Keeping Idaho’s air clean is an integral part of ensuring that Idaho stays safe for the people and wildlife who call it home. Sign up for our Climate Campaign email updates to be the first to know when action is needed to protect Idaho’s air!