Warm summers bring air pollution to California

by Christianne Kimberlin 0

With the summer months right around the corner, the rising temperature can make smog pollution unpleasant and amplify the number of “bad air days.” filled with irritated eyes and runny noses. This time can be extremely dangerous for individuals with respiratory diseases, infants, the elderly, and for those who work and exercise outside.

The ozone smog forms when pollution from vehicles, factories, and other sources react with sunlight and heat. The increasing weather temperatures of summer accelerates this process, resulting in a layer of smog. Adding to this mix, ragweed and other allergens which intensifies the plants to produce additional pollens as the carbon dioxide levels rise, commonly known as a “witches brew” in California.

Exposure to these conditions does not only irritate the eyes and throats, but causes lung damage as well. The EPA describes breathing ozone as to getting a sunburn on your lungs. Exposure to these conditions intensifies impairment to the lungs, heightens sensitivity to allergens, cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, triggers asthma attacks and even results in death.

The state of California has developed measures to address the air quality associated with the climate change by developing statewide air monitoring programs. This includes tracking and addressing climate related vulnerabilities such as reducing air pollution in “hot spots”, and expanding asthma monitoring. California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy includes categories of: air pollution, extreme heat, infectious disease, drought, flooding, and extreme weather.

Here are some simple air pollution facts:

  • California alone uses over 40 million gallons of fuel per day.
  • Idling in traffic uses over 8 million gallons of gasoline per day.
  • The California Air Resources Board has shown that plumes of freeway pollution in the Los Angeles area can travel more than a mile downwind early in the morning.

So you are asking what I can do to help with air quality and global warming? Here are a few simple recommendations that everyone can do. Stop idling your car! In most European countries, the laws require motorist to turn off their car engines after 2 minutes of idling. In fact, the state of California Health and Safety Code §§ 39640–39642; 13 Ca. Admin. Code §§ 2480– 2485, for air regulations restrict idling on or within 100 feet of school grounds by specified vehicles, however, they’re exceptions to the idling restrictions in regards to special needs individuals.

There are several myths about turning your automobile off rather than keeping it idling. The fact is, idling wastes fuel and gets you nowhere. Anything over 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel that shutting off and restarting your vehicle. The money you save by not idling will more than offset any costs for wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Frequently restarting your engine does negligible damage to the engine and does not drain modern batteries excessively. In fact, the opposite is true; idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.

By turning off your car engine in place of idling, you’ll make the air healthier by cutting down on hazardous pollution. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you will prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, plus this will help keep money in your wallet and the air even cleaner.

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