Car pollution: Don’t stand idly by


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We’re all guilty of it. We leave the car running with the A/C. blasting on a scorching hot summer day while we finish getting ready for that party. Or we leave the car running while we dash into our favorite café to grab our morning caffeine fix.

We know that it’s probably not the greenest of decisions, but in the scheme of the day does it matter?

Car idling is illegal in 19 states, Washington D.C. and various counties throughout the United States. Enforcement is often up to local environmental agencies, but fines for repeat offenders range into the hundreds. In Connecticut, it’s illegal to leave a car idling for more than three minutes, in Nevada it’s 15 before you’ll face a fine. A full list of the regulations and fines is available from the Environmental Protection Agency, but don’t think a fine is the only problem with an idling car.

It’s also wasteful. The Hinkle Charitable Foundation, which has a great list of myths associated with car idling, estimates that Americans waste 3.6 million gallons of gasoline each day by idling their cars. With the average cost of regular gas closing in on $4 per gallon http://gasbuddy.com/ that’s roughly $14 million.

Then there are health effects. According to the CDC, 10% of children in the United States suffer from asthma and recent studies have shown that auto exhaust makes childhood asthma worse.

The hum of an idling car may barely be audile but the noise from the resulting legal, economic and health issues last for years.