Fairfield County was ranked as the 19th worst ozone-polluted county in the country in the 2018 American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report. Air quality is particularly bad during the summer months, driven in large part by wind-borne pollutants from coal, oil, and natural gas-burning power plants in the South and Midwest USA.

The Environmental Protection Agency has flagged Connecticut as “at risk” for not meeting its air quality standards for 2025 and is not currently meeting 2008 standards. Poor air quality is largely driven by ground level ozone and fine particulates, which exacerbate asthma and other lung diseases, cardiac disease, among others.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) regularly monitors air quality around the state, and while air quality is much better than in the 1980s, we are still seeing many unhealthy days during the summer. In 2019, Fairfield County had 19 days that exceeded safety limits.

On a positive note, the coal-burning power plant in Bridgeport is scheduled to be retired in 2021.

Achievements to Date

  • The Town offers a voluntary, collaborative tree-planting program to help residents enhance the beauty of their property and create shaded streets that enhance air quality and property values
  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee worked with the Town to develop a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, creating a network of bike/walking paths to encourage less auto traffic and reduce emissions
  • UI/Municipal Electric Vehicle Readiness study, December 2019
  • Expanding electric vehicle ownership in Fairfield, reducing emissions

Challenges Ahead

  • Raising awareness about air quality and relationship to health
  • Although Fairfield currently has a policy that aims to “preserve, protect, and improve the air resources of the Town,” it does not have a specific air quality action plan. Other municipalities have plans in place that can serve as guides to design a plan and help improve Fairfield’s air quality programs.

Benefits of an air quality plan

  • Such a plan would provide a healthier environment, particularly important for children and those suffering from asthma and other lung problems.
  • An indirect benefit would be the reduction of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
DEEP Air Quality Index Levels

2030 Plan Goals*

  • Communication plan on specific actions for residents to improve air quality such as more efficient use of automobiles and rethinking home thermostat settings
  • Implement a “no idle” policy for cars, commercial vehicles and Town vehicles (e.g. school buses), and post 10 “No Idle” signs at strategic locations
  • Convert 10 of the Town’s fleet of school buses from diesel to electric power
  • Fast-charging EV stations for cars and trucks at our rest stops
  • Workplace charging at 50% of Fairfield businesses
  • Two thousand total Fairfield EV registrations
  • Full implementation of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

*Some goals are ambitious and may need more time to achieve target participation rates; others can be achieved sooner. Work on all goals should begin as soon as possible

How Do We Reach Our Goals?

  • Work with the Department of Health to develop an air quality plan
  • Continue annual Green Wheels Expo to encourage EV ownership
  • Work with the Town to “electrify” its municipal fleet and school buses
  • Work with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee to fully implement the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan
  • Promote EV workplace charging stations for the Town and local businesses
Key Air Pollutants
Electric Vehicle Readiness Study
Air Quality Index
Tree Planting Program
Air Quality Monitoring Site for Fairfield, CT