News & Blog

ESPO’s Anti-Idling Initiative Kicks Off

By Susan Hutton, Emerson Parent and an Initiative Leader

Idling at Emerson is No Idle Threat When It Comes to Kids’ Respiratory Health

Turn your key, be idle free.We all know the line of cars that forms every afternoon when we come to pick up our kids.  Whether your car is running while you wait for them may not be on your mind, but there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that it should be.  Idling engines consume gas and produce air pollution; when we idle at Emerson we introduce pollution directly into the air our kids breathe that can harm their health. Beginning Monday, April 21, ESPO is launching an anti-idling initiative at Emerson.

According to the EPA, air quality monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of air toxics during the afternoon hour that coincides with pick up.  It’s not good for anyone to breathe the pollution from car exhaust, but children are particularly vulnerable to it:

  • Children’s lungs are still developing,
  • Children breathe faster than adults, and
  • Children breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight.

Idling has been directly linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases, to heart disease, and to cancer.   When we were kids, we might have known one or two kids who had asthma; however, asthma rates have skyrocketed so our children’s classmates waiting on the sidewalk, their peers’ younger siblings who are riding along in the back seat, and our children’s teachers are much more likely to suffer from asthma than in previous generations.

Here are some general guidelines to remember:

  • Don’t idle while you’re waiting for Lenny to send you to the curb.
    Lines of idling cars produce the ideal scenario for maximum exposure to harmful pollutants. It’s fine to allow some distance between your car and the car in front of you while you wait: you won’t get to your child any later.
  • If you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, turn it off!
    Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine. Whether you’re dropping off your kids at school or using the ATM, if you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, turn your car off!
  • Idling pollutes
    Idling one car for five minutes per day can emit as many as 25 pounds of harmful air pollutants and 260 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, a primary greenhouse gas.

We all want the best things for our kids. Breaking the idling habit is an easy thing we can do together to improve the Emerson community’s air quality and our kids’ health.

Learn more about the benefits of anti-idling at and on the ESPO webpage.