City News

From Your Cleveland Heights City Government

Day 4, May 4, 2023

Today’s Air Quality Awareness Week theme is “Air Quality and Climate.”

Certain air pollutants have a dual impact, threatening human health and contributing to climate change. According to the U.S. EPA, emissions of pollutants into the air, such as nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide—primarily from burning fossil fuels—are precursors to smog or unhealthy-to-breath “ground-level ozone.” They are also greenhouse gases, meaning they act like a blanket, making the Earth warmer.

Air-Quality Risks

When air pollution levels are higher than normal, everyone is at risk. However, there are groups of people at even higher risk, identified in Air Quality Alerts as Sensitive Groups. They are:

  • Children and teens;
  • The elderly;
  • People with breathing problems, including asthma;
  •  People with cardiovascular diseases or diabetes; and
  • Adults who are active outdoors, including outdoor workers and healthy exercisers

Be Smart, Protect Your Heart from Air Pollution--U.S. EPA is a partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Park Service, NASA, Centers for Disease Control, and tribal, state, and local air quality agencies that track and report air quality. uses the official U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI), a color-coded index designed to communicate whether air quality is healthy or unhealthy for you. When you know the AQI in your area, you can take steps to protect your health.

The real-time information on is searchable by ZIP code, County, or larger geographic area within an Ozone Quality Index.

Cuyahoga County’s Ozone levels rose to Orange alert status on 14 separate occasions last year, in addition to three alerts for particle pollution, leading to an ALA grade of “F” and “C” respectively.

However, as the image above indicates, today’s air quality is Green or Good.

Protecting ourselves from poor air quality

When the Ozone Quality Index level is Orange or worse, The American Lung Association (ALA) recommends adjusting your plans for the day.

“Avoid prolonged vigorous activity outdoors. The health effects of pollution are worsened over extended periods of exposure and by the deep, rapid breathing that accompanies exercise.”

When an Air Quality Advisory is in the forecast, you can reduce the risk to your health and the health of other Cleveland Heights residents by:


  • Staying inside in an air-conditioned space.
  • Waiting until dusk to mow your lawn; 
  • Fueling up vehicles at dusk (to avoid evaporation);
  •  Postponing exercise until the evening and exercising away from busy roads;
  • Not letting your vehicle idle;
  •  Following Cuyahoga County’s guidelines on avoiding open fires, including wood fires and wood-burning stoves;
  • Carpooling
  •  Grouping your errands into one car trip.
  •  Checking on family members and neighbors who may be especially vulnerable to poor air quality.

Cleveland Heights takes air quality and climate seriously

The City of Cleveland Heights is acting to reduce air pollution and combat climate change. The city committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 30% by 2030 and reduced its emissions from fossil fuels by 20% from 2010 to 2017.


Making streets safer for walking and biking


Earlier this year, the city reduced speed limits on sections of Lee Road, Euclid Heights Boulevard, and South Taylor from 35 to 25 mph to improve safety for everyone who uses our streets. And making our streets safer also helps make them healthier.


Most car trips are short—five miles or less. During short trips, catalytic converters on today’s cars don’t heat up enough to effectively filter exhaust, which produces more emissions and ground-level ozone. Making our streets safer makes people more likely to replace short car trips with other forms of transportation like walking and biking.

Reducing idling time for refuse and recycling trucks

 Vehicle idling is a significant contributor to air pollution. The city’s new automated collection process uses robotic arms to pick up residents’ refuse and recycling carts instead of having Public Works staff pick up multiple bags. As a result, collection trucks make fewer, shorter stops, which reduces idling time.


Residents can help reduce idling time further AND help the city save money on fuel by waiting until their blue recycling carts are completely full before placing them on the curb for pick-up.

Restoring our urban forest

Planting trees helps address air quality and climate, providing shade from the sun and naturally cleaning the air we breathe. Cleveland Heights is committed to a healthy, urban forest for its residents. In 2021, the city won a Cuyahoga Healthy Urban Tree Canopy (HUTC) grant for a third of its $90,428 commitment to plant 400 trees during the Cleveland Heights Forestry Division’s planting season.


For the last 45 years, the National Arbor Day Foundation has named Cleveland Heights a “Tree City USA,” and this year, for the first time, the Arbor Day Foundation presented Cleveland Heights with its “Growth Award” for its work restoring its tree canopy.

View previous Air Quality Awareness Week emails

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