BRATTLEBORO >> The American Lung Association of the Northeast is reminding 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.
"While there's a lot of contributors to air pollution, like forest fires, that we have little control over, vehicle idling is one source of air pollution we have a lot of control over," said Rebecca Ryan, Senior Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. "We are encouraging Vermonters to familiarize themselves with our anti-idling laws so we can all enjoy improved air quality and consequently better health."
Earlier this year, residents of East Hardwick Vermont won a Notice of Violation judgment order from the State of Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division that effectively prohibits a trucking company from continuing operation of commercial truck tractors in that district. This order comes after residents of the district endured fumes and noise resulting from heavy duty truck idling on a daily basis for nearly nine years. The vehicle exhaust forced neighbors to keep their windows shut and refrain from sitting out on their porches.
The American Lung Association wants Vermonters to know that they and their loved ones do not have to endure unnecessary vehicle idling.
"The law and its exemptions distinguish between what vehicle idling is really necessary and what is merely convenient," said State Representative Mollie S. Burke of 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."
It's important to know that all vehicles, including all cars and trucks, emit gaseous and particle pollution including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is known to cause cancer. Tailpipe emissions 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, 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
"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. When it comes to addressing motor vehicle pollution, reducing unnecessary vehicle idling is low hanging fruit. 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 1 million gallons of fuel and over $4 million in fuel costs, and we would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 10,000 metric tons," said Tom Moye, head of Vermont's Mobile Sources Programs at the Department of Environmental Conservation.
For more information about Vermont's anti-idling law, visit the state's Air Quality and Climate Division at BeIdleFree.vermont.gov and the American Lung Association's Idle-Free Vermont page.