Jeremy Ranch Elementary launches idle-free vehicle campaign

Idling vehicles at after-school pickup have been known to cause elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and other air toxins

PARK CITY, Utah — The average person idles their car five to ten minutes a day, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, but a new campaign launched at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School (JRES) aims to reduce vehicle idling near children in an effort to protect their health, and reduce air pollution.

The Idle-Free Vehicle Campaign, created by the JRES Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) in partnership with the Park City School District (PCSD), students on the PCSD Go Green Team, teachers and other local leaders, aims to raise awareness about the big impact the simple act of turning off a parked car’s engine can have.

“Every engine counts! That’s what we hope people understand and take away from this campaign,” said Shelby Cornett, sustainability coordinator for PCSD. “It’s a small act that we can all take to protect students, our air quality, and our area.”

During the campaign, JRES students will learn more about what idling is and why it’s important. to avoid, and parents will have the opportunity to sign an idle-free pledge.

Idling is illegal in Summit County under Ordinance 786-A, and prolonged idling can have in negative health impacts, particularly in children. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, air quality monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other air toxins during afternoon pickup.

Because children’s lungs are still developing, the exposure to elevated levels of these pollutants can increase their risk of developing asthma, respiratory problems and other health issues. Limiting a vehicle’s idling time can dramatically reduce these pollutants, and decrease children’s exposure to them.

Idling has significant environmental impacts as well. According to the Utah DEQ, vehicles emit numerous pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Some of these pollutants can lead to the formation of ozone, which is major problem in Utah, especially during the summer months.

Turning off your engine may also save money in the long run. According to a press release from the JRES PTO, just ten seconds of idling a car uses more fuel than restarting the car.

The JRES PTO hopes that other local schools will follow their example and launch similar idle-free campaigns. Follow JRES’s idle-free campaign here.

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