Ban Car Idling at Schools

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Most Australians are unaware of the dangers of exposure to car emissions. Every day parents are sitting in carparks for 20, 30, 40 minutes with the engine still running, pumping out a toxic mix of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, and particulate matter into the air the children breathe. 

Car idling is not tolerated in other First World countries. The following countries, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and thirty-one states in the US all have anti-idling laws at schools.

An idling car is especially harmful as an idling vehicle emits nearly 20 times more air pollution than one traveling at 50 km /hour. Incredibly, one minute of idling is equivalent to 120 balloons of toxic emissions! 

Most shocking is that more people die from exposure to carbon particulates than on the roads! The Health Effects Institute estimates that air pollution from light vehicle emissions, including cars, killed 1715 people in Australia in 2015, almost 1½ times more than the national road toll.

Children are especially susceptible to asthma because of their relatively small airways and they breathe more air per body weight than adults. It causes irreversible damage to children’s lungs while they’re still developing. Diesel particles are rated as especially toxic because they are fine enough to leach through the skin and into the lymphatic system and through the lungs into the bloodstream and central nervous system.

Cigarette smoking has been banned at schools, so why not car idling?  One minute if idling produces more carbon monoxide than smoking 3 packets of cigarettes!

The effects are even worse for passengers inside the car. Fans suck fresh exhaust fumes into the back of the car. Children sitting in the backseat of vehicles are likely to be exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution.

Not only is idling harmful to our health and harmful to the environment with carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change, but it is also extremely wasteful.  The estimated fuel consumption of an idling engine is 0.6 liters/hr per liter of engine displacement. An idling 3.5-liter engine consumes more than 2 liters of fuel per hour!

When a thousand children come together in one small area schools have a duty to care to consider the air they breathe. It is time to ban unnecessary car idling at schools as it will benefit the whole community. Clean air is a human right.


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