Environment

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Idling

If you choose to idle your vehicle for longer than 60 seconds you are contributing to poor air quality. A car’s exhaust contains par­ticulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

These pollutants contribute to air pollution and climate change — and can harm your health in many ways, including:

  • Lung infections and irritation, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema
  • Some forms of heart disease
  • Increased risk of cancers
  • Reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen in the body

The Ontario Medical Association estimates that in 2016, smog will contribute to more than 440 premature deaths in Simcoe and Muskoka alone.

Winter or summer – don’t idle

Reducing unnecessary idling will cut pollutants, improve air quality and the health of our residents. Instead of idling:

  • Use a block heater. You don’t need to plug the block heater in all night. Set it on a timer for two hours before you drive away.
  • In the winter warm up your car by driving it. Computer-controlled and fuel-injected engines are designed to warm up quickly as you drive.
  • Turn the car off if you are going to be idle for more than 60 sec­onds. Turning your car on and off is not hard on your engine and doesn’t use more gas.
  • Avoid using drive-throughs. Park, turn off your car and walk inside. It’s better for the environment and your body.
  • Avoid remote control car starters. They encourage longer idling times.
  • Open your windows to stay cool when waiting for someone. It’s better than running the air conditioner, wasting fuel and polluting the air we breathe.

Other ways to improve our air in winter or summer: Keep your tires inflated and the engine properly tuned; use public transit or carpool.

Did you know?

  • Idling your vehicle with the air conditioner on (to keep the interior cool) can increase emissions by 13 per cent.
  • Refueling during cooler periods of the day or in the evening can prevent gas fumes from heating up and creating smog. And that helps reduce unhealthy air days, especially in the summer.
  • Just by cutting back idling by five minutes a day you will save about 44.9 litres of fuel ($55.36 at $1.25/L) and 103 kg of greenhouse gas emissions in a year.
  • If you planted 3 tree seedlings and grew them for almost 10 years, they would take up the same amount of carbon as you save by not idling for five minutes each day for one year.
  • If all Canadians driving light duty vehicles reduced their idling time by five minutes a day, it would save:
    • 680 million litres of fuel;
    • 850 million annually in fuel costs (assuming fuel costs $1.25/L);
    • over 1.6 million tonnes of emissions and;
    • as much carbon as would be taken up by 359,682 acres of pine or fir forest over a year.

 For more information

For more information and to speak to a public health professional call Health Connection Monday to Friday 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).

 Why do Canadians idle? Natural Resources of Canada  

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