This is part of the Healthy Child Blog Carnival about Clean Water and Air Solutions – an effort by Healthy Child Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals.
The delivery guy pulls up to my house to bring me a package. I have to admit, he is visiting my house a bit too often these days-but that’s another story. He leaves his truck running as he gets out to deliver the package to my doorstep. It is happening daily-at my house and at yours; delivery companies, buses, cars-all leaving their engines running when stopped. How many times have I left my car running when I wait to pick up my kids from school, wait at the bus stop, or in a drive-through line?
I know I am guilty-my guess is we have all sat in our unmoving vehicle with the engine running. Maybe it is hot out and we need a/c or cold out and we need the heat. This is idling. Idling is when a driver leaves the engine of their car running while the vehicle is not moving. Everyday in the U.S. millions of cars and trucks idle needlessly, sometimes for hours.
Dangers of Idling
- Idling cause’s pollution– vehicle exhaust contains air toxins and fine particles, among other pollutants.
- Idling negatively impacts our health-the pollution from a running engine impacts all of our health, but particularly our children and those with asthma suffer. The toxins produced are associated with increased incidence of respiratory ailments and heart disease, as well as greater cancer risk.
- Idling contributes to global warming- while your engine is running it creates carbon emissions which enter the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
- Idling wastes fuel and your money– an idling vehicle gets the worst gas mileage possible – 0 miles per gallon. As gas prices rise, turning off your vehicle is a quick and easy way to save money at the pump.
How to Become Idle Free
- Limit vehicle warm-up idling time to no more than 30 seconds. Most vehicles, not including diesel-fueled and those made before the early 1990s, are designed to need only 30 seconds of mechanical warm up time! My car usually starts right up during the cold winter months. By limiting the time spent idling, and driving slowly and smoothly for the first few miles of any trip, the wear-and-tear on a vehicle’s engine is reduced since it allows the vehicle to operate according to its mechanical design.
- If you are stopped turn off your engine. If you are stopped for more than 10 seconds turn off the engine. Exception to this-don’t turn the car off when you are in traffic! The amount of gas used to turn off and re-start a vehicle engine is equal to that of idling for only 10 seconds, any more is wasting gas and contributes to unnecessary emissions and vehicle wear-and-tear!
- Share the information with friends and family.Remind friends and family to turn off their engines when not in use. Spreading the word will improve the air quality for us all.
- Teach your children about idling. Teach them about the harm that can come from idling when they are young. Children are often very interested in nature and protecting the earth. Learning about how simple changes in behavior, such as limiting idling, can impact our environment teaches children that they can help make a difference.
Thank you to the many states that have enacted an anti-idling campaign. Kudos to the schools, towns and communities that have created an anti-idling program which includes the posting of No Idling signs. You are making a difference in the air we all breathe. If you are interested in starting an anti-idling campaign in your area please click HERE.
Imagine if we all took the time to turn off our engines when we stopped- what an easy way to contribute to improved air quality and respiratory health in our communities.
What an easy way to help keep our air clean!
Sources and sites for more information:
Burlington Vermont Legacy Project
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency