Tag Archives | air quality

Idling Your Car: Illegal And Costly

Idling your engine for more than 5 minutes is not only illegal but causes health and climate problems.
Do you see cars idling while in the pickup line at school, in the driveway warming up in the winter, or waiting for someone to run into a store?   It’s actually against Massachusetts state law to idle a vehicle for more than 5 minutes.  It is punishable by a fine of up to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for a second offense. 
We need to drive our cars to get places.  We don’t need to idle the engines.  
A typical vehicle produces more pollution when idling longer than 10 seconds than it will restarting the engine.  If you plan to be stopped for more than 10 seconds, shut off your car.

Unnecessary idling causes the following:

Air Quality Issues
Vehicles emit carbon dioxide while running.  An hour of idling can release almost 4 pounds of needless carbon dioxide into the air.  As we know, carbon dioxide adds to greenhouse gases in the environment.  These greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. 
Health Effects
Many other gases are released while a car runs.  Carbon monoxide can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.  Nitrogen oxide, another component of vehicle exhaust, can irritate air passages and lungs.  Car exhaust can cause headaches, aggravate asthma and allergies and impair learning.  Children are particularly vulnerable.  Their lungs are immature and since they are shorter, their breathing space is closer to the emissions. 
Wasted fuel
Depending on the size of the engine, idling can use ¼ to ½ gallon of fuel per hour. Many experts agree that warming your car for 30 seconds is sufficient in cold weather.
School buses have diesel engines.  While they are durable and economical, the pollution from diesel engines is a growing concern.  Some studies indicate that over time, exposure to diesel exhaust can cause cancer and other health problems.  MassDEP is working with schools to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.
I have noticed that school buses in Westford do not idle while waiting.  Yeah bus drivers!
Are there “No Idling” signs at Westford schools?   I haven’t noticed any at my children’s schools.  Although the few times I am in the car line, no one seems to be idling.  At least not in good weather.  So good for you Westford-ians!
As the weather gets colder, remember to bundle up if you will be sitting in your car and shut off the engine.
[Above photo used under Creative Commons from Eutrophication/Flickr]


10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

10 Simple Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality {thegreeningofwestford.com}
Your  home is your castle.  You feel most comfortable and safe in your home.
Did you know that indoor air quality can be 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air, according to the EPA?
When we use air fresheners, perfume or hair spray inside, they release particles that stay in the air.  Other materials in our homes can let off harmful gases for years.  Things such as carpets, shower curtains, paints, fabric, particle board, cabinets, and mattresses. Dust also contains harmful particles such as lead which can be inhaled.  Newer homes are being built more airtight to reduce energy costs.  However, without proper ventilation, these gases are trapped inside.
 Even if you just have a normal build up of household dust, it can cause problems.  Poor indoor air quality has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.  With more of us spending more time indoors, it is especially important to improve our indoor air quality.

Reduce The Sources

The best way to improve your indoor air is to reduce what comes into your home.
  1. Don’t use air fresheners or other synthetic fragrances.
  2. Remove your shoes at the door to keep out a whole host of chemicals along with the dirt.
  3.  Switch to non-toxic cleaners.
  4. Do not smoke in your home.
Remove What is Already Here
There are other steps to remove what may already be here.
  1. Vacuum often to eliminate allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and dust.  Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is very helpful.  Don’t forget vacuum those corners and under the sofa and beds.
  2. Wipe down baseboards and walls to remove dust.
  3. Take area rugs and sofa cushions outside to air out.  Beat them to release extra dust.
  4. Open the windows and doors, daily if possible, to let new air in.
  5. NASA discovered that having plenty of plants can reduce up to 85% of the toxins.  Palms, Boston fern, English Ivy, Peace Lily and Spider plants are good choices as they absorb the common toxins.  Plants should be spread throughout your home, roughly 1 plant per 100 sq feet of space is recommended.
  6. Change your furnace/AC filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
Recently I started having allergy-like symptoms, especially at night sitting on my sofa.  I don’t have allergies.   After just one day of opening the windows, vacuuming every nook and cranny,  and airing out area rugs and my sofa cushions, I feel much better.
Have any other suggestions?  Please share them.
This post was in response to Reduce Footprints Change the World Wednesday Challenge regarding indoor air quality.


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