American Lung Association reminds Vermonters to steer clear of vehicle idling

BRATTLEBORO — The American Lung Association of the Northeast reminds Vermonters to do their part to keep the air clean and healthy by limiting unnecessary vehicle idling.

Not only does vehicle idling contribute to air pollution, which can exacerbate lung disease, it is against the law and could result in violators being fined. Under Vermont law, no vehicle may idle more than five minutes within any 60 minute period.

Fines range from $10 for the first offense to up to $100 for the third offense.

“The law and its exemptions distinguish between what vehicle idling is really necessary and what is merely convenient,” said state Rep. Mollie S. Burke, P-Brattleboro, who is a member of the House Committee on Transportation.

“We need to change the culture of convenience idling, which is so detrimental to public health and to the environment. Education is the key to that, backed up by enforcement of the law,” she added.

The American Lung Association says it is important to know that all vehicles, including all cars and trucks, emit gaseous and particulate pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide (NOx), and volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is known to cause cancer.

Tailpipe emissions (NOx, VOC, and CO) react in sunlight to form ozone or smog. Ozone exposure worsens asthma and COPD, and likely causes heart disease and early death, both from short- and long-term exposure.

What's more, the experts say, exhaust from diesel vehicles emits particle pollution or PM2.5. Exposure to particle pollution has been linked to early death, increased emergency room visits, and increased severity of asthma attacks in children.

“In Vermont, motor vehicles are the largest source of greenhouse gases and a number of other air pollutants that threaten human health and our environment,” said Tom Moye, head of Vermont's Mobile Sources Programs at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“When it comes to addressing motor vehicle pollution, reducing unnecessary vehicle idling is low-hanging fruit,” he added. “In fact, if every car and truck in Vermont reduced unnecessary idling for just one minute per day, over the course of a year we would save over one million gallons of fuel and over $4 million in fuel costs, and we would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 10,000 metric tons.”

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