May is Air Quality Awareness Month

    Governor John Bel Edwards has declared May to be Air Quality Awareness month in Louisiana. Recently, Governor Edwards announced that “the entire state is in compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, according to the EPA. Louisiana gained compliance thanks to improved ozone levels in the greater Baton Rouge area, which comprises East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension and Livingston parishes,” according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). In order to continue this improvement and increase awareness and education about air quality and its importance, we will be promoting air quality awareness throughout the month of May.

    According to LDEQ, “May is traditionally the start of ozone season, and the proclamation encourages citizens to become familiar with the Air Quality Index, to understand what causes ozone formation and to take voluntary steps to help prevent ozone formation and improve air quality.” The task of improving air quality can seem much too overwhelming for individual people or organizations to make a difference on their own, but it’s “a cooperative effort,” says LDEQ. One easy way that anyone who operates a vehicle in Louisiana can do their part is through idle reduction.

    Idle reduction describes technologies and practices that reduce the amount of time vehicles idle their engines. When the engine of a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle runs, it releases harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants. Not only are these tailpipe emissions damaging to the environment, they are also harmful to human health. Vehicle idling releases these emissions without the benefit of even moving the vehicle - in short, the driver goes nowhere and sits in one spot wasting fuel and releasing harmful emissions.

    According to the AFDC, "each year, U.S. passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles consume more than 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline—without even moving. Roughly half of that fuel is wasted by passenger vehicles.” The AFDC also states that one gallon of fuel creates roughly 20 lbs of greenhouse gases. Doing the math shows that idling vehicles are releasing about 120 billion lbs of greenhouse gases each year. These gases can contribute to poor air quality both through immediate exposure (someone standing near a vehicle’s tailpipe and breathing in the emissions) and over time.

    For everyday drivers, the best way to reduce idling is to simply turn the key when stopped for 10 seconds or more, except in traffic. When going through a long drive-through line, consider turning off your engine or, even better, parking and going inside the building. When waiting for passengers, keep the engine off while you wait. According to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), "It’s especially important for caregivers waiting to pick up schoolchildren to minimize idling because vehicle emissions are more concentrated near the ground, where children breathe. Poor air quality can contribute to asthma and other ailments, and children’s lungs are more susceptible to damage than adults’ lungs are."

    In honor of Air Quality Awareness month this May, consider taking a pledge to reduce idling and keep our Louisiana air cleaner and safer. We would love to see how you are doing your part for air quality improvement in Louisiana: share the image below to show your dedication to air quality awareness and tag Louisiana Clean Fuels on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram). Use the hashtag #IdleLess to promote your efforts and encourage others to follow your lead! We will be sharing posts throughout the month of May to show how Louisianians are leading the charge to reduce idling and improve air quality.

    For more information about the benefits of idle reduction and how you can implement idle reduction strategies for yourself or your organization, check out the resources on our Idle Reduction page. You can also see the air quality forecast for various locations in Louisiana on LDEQ’s website.

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