Clean Air Upstate

    Raising awareness for air quality issues and serving as a resource for the community

    Having clean air that allows all residents to safely enjoy outdoor activity is a crucial component of our quality of life. Learn how you can help promote Clean Air in Upstate South Carolina.

    Upstate Making Great Strides, but Keeping Air Clean Is Still Crucial

    Since 2000, the ozone emission levels across the Upstate have improved at a tremendous rate. This has helped the Upstate region remain in attainment with the EPA Clean Air Act and thus avoid potential additional regulatory measures for individuals and businesses. That improvement is the result of great local, regional and state efforts, primarily voluntary, that have positively impacted air pollution in the Upstate. While we are very pleased that the emission levels in the Upstate are at the lowest levels ever, it is important to still remember that according to the American Lung Association there are still more than 27,000 cases of Pediatric Asthma and 87,000 cases of Adult Asthma in the Upstate region. With the tighter emission standards issued by EPA in 2015, the Upstate and other parts of the South are likely to see more ozone alert days in 2016 and beyond. As this occurs, it is important for all residents, especially those at greater risk, to understand what you can do to remain safe while still enjoying the outdoors in the Upstate. The Air Alert Chart on this web page outlines some of the measures to maintain safety. It is also important to learn the Clean Air Tips and do what you can to help keep the air in the Upstate as clean as possible.

    Air Quality Levels Impact Jobs and Economic Vitality

    Through the EPA Clean Air Act, communities that have emission levels that are above the standards set as healthy by EPA can be subject to regulatory measures that can impact individuals and businesses. Historically, the Upstate region has been right on the edge of attainment, but through great collaborative efforts over the last 15 years, for the first time ever, the region was within attainment standards when the newest EPA standards were announced in 2015. However, because EPA continually monitors the standards and will likely continue to revise the standards at stricter levels over time, the Upstate must always continue to work collaboratively to ensure that our air remains as clean as possible. If the region were deemed out of attainment, it would not only be a negative from a public health standpoint, but the stricter requirements for businesses looking to come to the region or expand current operations would likely stifle economic and job growth. It also would restrict how the region can use federal transportation funding and potentially force additional federal regulations on all residents within the region. This problem occurred in Birmingham, Alabama in the ’90s. Learn more about how Alabama’s business and economic growth was negatively impacted. Read an overview of what could happen if the Upstate is out of attainment. We hope you and your business will continue to support Clean Air Upstate efforts as well as other local and state initiatives so the Upstate can remain a place where breathing clean air allows all residents to safely enjoy outdoor activities while we continue to be a national leader in growing our manufacturing economy.

    Everyone Can Make a Difference

    There are many factors that impact air quality in the Upstate. Some over which we have some control, and others over which we have little control. For the Upstate to ensure we maintain air quality levels that provide for our physical health and allow us to maintain economic vitality, the key is for all of us to support those actions over which we have control and that can make a difference. Below is a link to the regional air quality pledge as well as to a list of actions and strategies that can be done by Individuals, Businesses & Institutions and Local Governments to help ensure we are all doing our part to maintain clean air in the Upstate.


    MThe Upstate’s air quality is important for many reasons. Having clean air is essential for the health of Upstate residents, especially those with lung cancer or asthma. It is also important that air quality monitors in the Upstate are at attainment level as there can be a drastic economical impact if the region is designated as a non-attainment area. The Upstate Air Quality Advisory Committee is comprised of conservation and DHEC representatives, utility company representatives, community activists, and business, community, and government leaders who meet two to three times per year.

    Find meeting notes below


    The “State of the Air” 2020 found that, in 2016-2018, more cities had high days of ozone and short-term particle pollution compared to 2015-2017 and many cities measured increased levels of year-round particle pollution. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, the landmark law that has
    driven dramatic improvements in air quality over its history.

    Download the current State of the Air report.

    Clean Air Tips

    1. Do not idle your car engine when parked. Turn off your car engine when parked in order to save gas and keep emissions from polluting the air. To reduce idling you can also go inside fast food restaurants, banks, and other businesses rather than using drive-thru lanes.
    2. Keep your tires properly inflated. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your car and check your tire pressure at least once a month. Keeping your tires properly inflated helps save money on gas and cuts down on air pollutants. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
    3. Cut your grass in the evening. Cutting grass during the middle of the day in the heat of the summer isn’t physically safe and also increases the toxic emissions released into the air.
    4. Pump gas in the evening. Waiting until after 6 pm to pump gasoline during the summer can help improve air quality as toxic gases are less likely to evaporate into the air in the evening than during the heat of the day.
    5. Be careful when working or playing outside. On ozone alert days it is important for everyone, but especially for people that have trouble breathing, children, and the elderly, to monitor the heat and their physical health. You can get localized ozone forecasts at
    6. Carpool to work or play. Ask your employer to create a ride-share board to encourage carpooling. Consider carpooling with other families to extracurricular activities or summer camps. Rideshare and carpool websites:,
    7. Plan errands to increase efficiency and reduce the number of trips. Combine errands into one outing and group them by where they are located to reduce the amount of miles you travel. This saves gas and time, too.
    8. Replace the air filter in your vehicle. Checking and replacing the air filter in your automobile when it is needed helps improve gas mileage.
    9. Walk or bike to nearby locations. Instead of driving to nearby restaurants or stores, consider walking or biking if there are sidewalks or a safe path. Communities can also make it easier for children to bike or walk to school by participating in the Safe Routes to Schools program:
    10. Reduce energy consumption. Reducing energy use by turning out lights, making sure dishwashers and washing machines are full before using, turning off ceiling fans, unplugging unused appliances, and other similar methods will not only save you money, but also will help improve air quality since much of our power comes from pollutant generating fossil fuels.
    11. Stay in for lunch. Order in from a local restaurant with a group of co-workers for lunch, or bring your lunch to work. It saves time, money, and it keeps emissions from your car out of the air.

    Other Resources:

    Stay In the Know with Clean Air Upstate!

    Join us on Wednesday May 5th from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. for an Air Quality Awareness Meeting! Register now!

    Topic: South Carolina Air Quality Update with South Carolina DHEC

    Topic: Focus on Indoor Air Quality with Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and the American Lunch Association

    FERC Environmental Justice Communities and Tribal Interests listening sessions