RAQC, Partners Announce “Put A Cap on Ozone” Gas Cap Replacement Program

This summer, motorists in the Denver Metropolitan and North Front Range areas whose vehicles are found to have faulty or missing gas caps during an emissions inspection, will receive a coupon good for the purchase of a new cap at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores. The “Put a Cap on Ozone” program, scheduled to begin Friday, July 13, is part of a continuing effort to help curb ground-level ozone pollution along Colorado’s Front Range.

“Put a Cap on Ozone” is a cooperative effort of Envirotest – Air Care Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) and NAPA Auto Parts to help with the state’s voluntary ozone reduction efforts. Studies have shown that the simple act of replacing a faulty gas cap is the most cost-effective, immediate way to significantly reduce vehicle emissions, including those that cause harmful ground-level ozone.

In 2011, an average of 3,200 vehicles each month failed the gas cap portion of the vehicle emissions inspection process at Air Care Colorado stations. This summer the “Put a Cap on Ozone” program aims to replace up to 6,500 gas caps between July 13 and September 15, which could amount to savings of up to:

 1.5 tons per day of volatile organic compounds (VOC) – a type of pollution that can lead to ground-level ozone formation
 26,000 gallons of gasoline lost due to evaporation during hot summer months
 $100,000.00 the cost of 26,000 gallons of evaporated gasoline

Coupons for $10 toward the purchase of a new gas cap at any participating NAPA store, will be given after a vehicle fails the gas cap portion of the emissions inspection at an Air Care Colorado station; the average retail price of a new gas cap is $10 – more for specialty caps. There are more than 30 participating NAPA stores along the Front Range, with at least one shop nearby each Air Care emissions inspection station.

State air quality regulations require emissions testing stations to fail a vehicle if the gas cap is faulty, doesn’t fit properly or is simply missing. After a failing vehicle is outfitted with a new cap, it is required to repeat the entire emissions testing procedure.
Doug Decker, Mobile Sources Program Director for the Air Pollution Control Division of CDPHE, said properly working gas caps are an important component in the fight against ground-level ozone pollution.

“Evaporative emissions from faulty and missing gas caps can amount to more than 3 tons of volatile organic compounds per day,” Decker said. “The emissions reductions we expect from this gas cap replacement program are equivalent to removing 50 cars from the road for an entire year; it’s an immediate, positive impact on air quality. By replacing these caps we take an important step toward reducing emissions and combating ozone.”

Ground-level ozone is created when pollutants like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds are released into the atmosphere. These pollutants react in the presence of sunlight to create ozone.

The Denver Metro/North Front Range region is currently out of compliance with the federally set standard for ground-level ozone pollution, and the EPA has recently given the area until 2015 to meet the 2008 federal standard. This gas cap replacement program will help to reduce ground-level ozone pollution and contribute to efforts to bring the area back into compliance.

“We’re pleased to participate in and co-sponsor this program,” said Brian Marsh, general manager for Envirotest Systems in Colorado. “Not only will customers with failing caps receive an essentially free new cap, but that new cap is going to save them money in the long run. A vehicle with a bad gas cap can lose a gallon of gasoline every two weeks in the summertime through evaporation. So this program not only helps the air but also helps the motorist’s wallet.”

Program sponsors encourage all motorists to ensure that they have good, tight-fitting gas caps on all their vehicles, even if they are not due for an emissions test. Many caps will “click” when they are put back on after refueling – a sign to the motorist that the cap fits snugly. Of course, motorists whose vehicles are missing the caps entirely should replace them immediately. Evaporating gasoline is not only bad for the air, it can also be dangerous.

Funds for the gas cap program are being provided by Envirotest Systems Corp., NAPA Auto Parts and the Regional Air Quality Council, with additional support provided by the American Lung Association of Colorado and KHOW Radio. Coupons will be accepted at more than 30 local NAPA stores, most of which are within a few miles of testing stations. In addition, NAPA is offering 10 percent off of additional purchases.