Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Where I live, gas has finally hit over 4 dollars a gallon. My once cheap(er) to fill up Subaru now takes at least $50 to fill up. This is not easy to stomach, especially when food prices are also through the roof (excuse the pun).
So I paused when I heard on NPR today that idling your car for 10 seconds uses as much gas as starting your car.
Now I always knew idling your car was harmful environmentally, spewing ozone depleting CO2, and creating poor air quality for folks around the area. But the effects are even worse than I thought. According to Hamilton County Environmental Services,
"The pollutants found in exhaust not only affect our environment, they
also affect our health. PM is the name for tiny particles, such as soot, dust and dirt, found in the air. When inhaled, these small particles travel deep into the
lungs and sometimes into the bloodstream. Inhaling PM can:
• aggravate asthma,
• cause coughing or difficult breathing,
• decrease lung function,
• exacerbate cardiovascular problems and
• lead to chronic bronchitis.
CO (Carbon Monoxide) slows the delivery of oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. Exposure to CO aggravates heart disease and can cause headaches and visual impairment. Children are especially sensitive to the effects air pollution because they breathe more quickly and take in more air than adults. Children spend more time outdoors than adults, which further increases their exposure to vehicle emissions and air pollution."
Our local elementary school has put up signs to discourage parents from idling in their cars as they wait for their kids, and it is shared in our parent literature. In the past, I do remember seeing 20 cars lined up, all idling their engines. The children, of course, were then exposed to these hazardous toxins, either outside or in the classrooms if the windows or doors were open. If your school hasn't started an anti idling campaign, you can download a free brochure about how to do it here. The brochure is filled with facts about air pollution from idling and helpful tips for starting an awarness campaign at your child's school.
But back to high gas prices. By not idling you can save big bucks on gas. According to the Hamilton County Environmental Services, "Every 30 minutes of idling costs you nearly one-tenth of a gallon in wasted fuel – and more than three-tenths of a gallon if your vehicle has an eight-cylinder engine." And this adds up significantly if you do it throughout the day. CNN shares this and other tips for using less fuel when you drive.
Not convinced? Here are some FAQs about Idling and your car's health.
Every day, Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gas by voluntarily idling their cars. This is one problem we can fix quickly and easily. This is one idea I will have to revisit when it's 20 below again in Vermont! But with prices for gas as high as they are, this is the type of environmentalism that not only helps lessen climate change, makes the air cleaner for all of us, and saves us our hard earned cash.