Study: Turning off cars and buses leads to significant reductions in traffic-related air pollution

CINCINNATI -- A new study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says children’s health may be at risk during school hours based on the amount of pollutants released into the air by idling cars and school buses.

Diesel exhaust from excessive idling is known to affect human health.

Three pounds of pollution per month is released into the air for every vehicle drop-off and pick-up at a school, not including even larger vehicles, like school buses.

During the 2010-2012 school year, air samples were taken at four Cincinnati public elementary schools before and after an anti-idling campaign was put into place.

The study aimed to find out the impact on air pollutants if drivers turned their engines off instead of keeping them running.

Cincinnati Children’s researcher Patrick Ryan, PhD, of the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, led the campaign.

At one school, researchers say levels of pollutants were reduced by a staggering 76 percent.

“Anti-idling campaigns are frequently attempted to improve air quality, but until now, no one has evaluated how effective they are,” says Ryan, lead author on the study. “The results of this study demonstrate, for the first time, that not idling is a simple and effective policy that can improve air quality at schools, especially schools with a large number of buses.”

First Student provides bus services to Cincinnati Public Schools and district officials say they encourage those bus drivers to turn off their engine after three minutes to improve air quality around students.

For a full report of the project in the journal Environmental Science Processes and Impacts, CLICK HERE.

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