Turn off engine when picking your kids up at school

If you drive your child to school, now is a great time to start a new habit and shut off the engine while you wait. Protecting your child’s air quality is as easy as turning the key. It will also save you money on wasted fuel, and it’s the law. Minneapolis ordinance limits most idling to three minutes.

Children are especially vulnerable to vehicle air pollution because their lungs are still developing, and they inhale more pounds of pollution per pound of body weight than adults do. 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 global warming. Exhaust from an idling car carries a higher load of pollutants than a moving car, so reducing unnecessary idling is one easy way we can all do something to improve air quality.

While most folks are already turning off their cars when they’re not on the move, they sometimes let their cars idle by habit, especially when waiting to pick someone up or dropping something off. If breathing cleaner air isn’t incentive enough, consider that your idling car is getting zero miles to the gallon. Turning off your engine in these situations will save you money. In general, 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the car.

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. Most air pollution comes from cars and trucks releasing fossil fuel exhaust. For more information about sustainability in Minneapolis and what you can do to protect your quality of life, visit the City's sustainability website.

Published Sep 3, 2010