As schools reopen for the fall session, air quality officials are asking parents across the San Joaquin Valley to consider student health and turn off their engines when waiting to pick up their children at the end of the school day. Limiting vehicle idling at schools will help to reduce air pollution and student exposure to vehicle emissions.
With school now back in session, increased vehicle traffic contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone. Parents can help reduce emissions and protect public health by incorporating some of the following practices:
• Coordinate a carpool or rideshare to get kids to and from school.
• Driving less – Look for ways to leave your gasoline vehicle home more often by linking your trips.
• Walking your children to school when air quality allows.
• Driving zero-emission or low-emission vehicles – The District offers a cash rebate www.valleyair.org/drivecleaninthesanjoaquin/rebate/ to go electric.
• Keeping your vehicle running properly – A well-tuned vehicle pollutes less.
• Avoiding the use of drive-through services – Turn off your engine and go inside for food, coffee and other services instead of idling in the drive-through.
• Turning off your engine at school – When you are stopping to drop the kids off in the morning and waiting to pick them up at the end of the school day, please do not idle.
“Protecting the health of children is one of our greatest priorities,” said Samir Sheikh, the District’s Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer. “We urge the public to be mindful of their impact on air quality during this critical Back-to-School window and throughout the school year.”
The Valley has seen significant reductions in summer time ozone pollution levels over the past two decades. However, with the increase in wildfire activity over the last several years, it is more important than ever that parents and schools take steps to reduce students’ exposure to poor air quality while also reducing the creation of additional air pollution. The increase in severe wildfires over the past few years has resulted in smoke infiltrating the San Joaquin Valley at times during the late summer and fall. Smoke contains particulate matter (PM) and other pollution that can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Those with existing respiratory conditions are especially susceptible to the adverse health effects of this form of pollution.
To help ensure continued progress and minimize pollution associated with school site vehicle idling, the District has partnered with hundreds of Valley schools through the Healthy Air Living Schools program, providing “no-idling” signs and other resources that remind parents to turn off their vehicle’s engine when picking up or dropping off students. Healthy Air Living Schools also includes training for school staff on using the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN), which displays hourly air quality data, and corresponding outdoor activity recommendations to protect student health.
All Valley residents can find current, localized air quality data by visiting myRAAN.com, fire.airnow.gov or by downloading the free Valley Air app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
To learn more about the Healthy Air Living Schools program, request a presentation or enrollment into the program, visit www.healthyairliving.com/schools or contact district officials at email@example.com.
The Valley Air District covers eight counties including San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and San Joaquin Valley air basin portions of Kern. For additional information about the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, visit www.valleyair.org or call 559-230-6000.