Protect young lungs, turn off engine while waiting

For parents who pick up their children at school and for anyone who spends time waiting in the car, remember to turn off the engine while waiting. Children’s lungs are still developing, and they inhale more pounds of pollution per pound of body weight than adults do, so they are especially vulnerable to vehicle air pollution.

Most air pollution comes from cars and trucks releasing fossil fuel exhaust. Exhaust from an idling car carries a higher load of pollutants than exhaust from a moving car, so reducing unnecessary idling is one easy way all drivers can do their part to improve air quality.

Turning off the engine while waiting will also save money on wasted fuel – in general, 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the car – and it’s the law. Minneapolis ordinance limits most idling to three minutes.

Air quality in Minneapolis is among the best of large metropolitan areas in the U.S. Still, the area has air quality issues that contribute to health problems such as asthma, lung disease and heart disease. Vehicle motors release particulate matter, dirt, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air. Chemicals in vehicle exhaust are linked to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease and asthma and are the major source of human-caused climate change.

For more information about sustainability in Minneapolis and what we can all do to protect our quality of life, visit www.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability.

Published Oct. 16, 2013