Now that the new school year has started, does your daily routine include dropping off kids at school or day care? Do you leave the car idling while you wait or run in with them?
If so, you might want to reconsider. Exhaust from idling cars isn't good for anyone, but it's particularly unhealthy for young, developing lungs. Yet at schools and day cares, it's not uncommon to see cars lined up for long minutes right where kids are loading and unloading.
Do you know that exhaust from an idling engine contains more pollutants than that from moving cars?
Vehicles are a major contributor to poor air quality in urban areas; the list of harmful ingredients in car exhaust runs to more than 100 compounds. Studies have linked pollution from vehicles to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma, and allergies. And the impact is greatest on kids – children breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults, and their lungs are still developing.
“We all need to make a conscious effort not to idle our vehicles, especially outside schools, daycares, at sports events or anywhere young children are likely to be,” said Fran Crotty, MPCA staffer for vehicle programs.
Let’s get this new school year started off right, and give kids a better chance at developing clean, healthy lungs by shutting our engines off and not idling.
What you can do
No-idling resources from MPCA. Parents and teachers can help their schools and daycares develop and implement no-idling policies. Download posters and handouts with messages such as “No Idling: Young Lungs at Work,” or “Turn off Your Engine: Kids Breathe Here” for use at schools, daycares, and sports facilities.
Additional resources are available through the city of Minneapolis, which passed an ordinance in 2008 making it illegal to leave an unattended vehicle idling for more than three minutes. Anti-Idling Vehicle Ordinance (Minneapolis)
Old habits die hard, and many people still believe it’s better for the engine to let the car run instead of restarting it. Vermont’s Idle Free from the Start campaign aims to educate new and future drivers in all the benefits of driving more efficiently by avoiding unnecessary idling and practicing eco-driving.
Idle-Free from the Start (Vermont)