News


Pleasanton Middle School students encourage parents to stop car idling

Idling at school pick-up lines common, can create smog around schools

With fans and fliers in hand, the 13-year-old approached the cars waiting in their middle school parking lot.

After some formalities -- excuse me, ma'am; pardon me, sir -- they pulled out their prepared message: Could you turn off your car? It's hurting us kids.

Students on the leadership council of Pleasanton Middle School shared information Wednesday afternoon with waiting parents on how letting a car idle in a parking lot can lead to poor air quality around a school, impacting vulnerable children and adults.

The awareness event was organized through the Bay Area Air District's Spare the Air program.

Car exhaust can exacerbate asthma, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland nurse Mary Frazier said, which is of particular concern because 20 percent of emergency room visits at that hospital are related to asthma, she said.

"The emissions from the exhaust of the cars gets into the lungs of the children," she said. This can lead to a child missing school because they have to go to a hospital for treatment.

Sitting in one's car and running the engine causes benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other air toxics to be released in a contained area, which children breathe in as they make their way to the carpool area. Children who has asthma are particularly sensitive to car exhaust, Flannigan said.

"Air quality around schools during the pickup hours is a public health concern," Bay Area Air District spokesman Tom Flannigan said as he stood in front of Pleasanton Middle, watching as students encouraged waiting parents to turn off their cars.

"Idling is really unnecessary, and it can get the air really polluted and stuffy," said Pleasanton Middle eighth-grader Ishana Ram. "A lot of times, they don't know what they're doing by not stopping their cars."

Ram walked around the parking lot with her peers, gently knocking on car windows and asking parents to consider turning off their cars while they wait. Ram handed them a small fan to keep themselves cool, rather than relying on the car's air conditioning.

"It's a chance for everyone to be so much healthier when they grow up if they can just turn their car off," said 13-year-old Zoe Whelan, who has asthma. "It's something so simple."

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:25 am

Great job kids!


23 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:57 am

I've got an idea. How about walk to school and walk back home?


11 people like this
Posted by Nikki S.
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:23 am

How about riding your bikes to school or walking?? The traffic is Insane.


4 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Steven is a registered user.

Out of curiosity, I did a web search for actual scientific data regarding the dangers of idling vehicles, and found a study on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website (Web Link).

The study concerned the impact of anti-idling campaigns such as the one mentioned in this article. It's only an abstract, but it seems to include much of their results and a conclusion.

They found that "The outdoor concentrations of pollutants at schools with fewer buses (n = 5-11) were not significantly reduced [by an anti-idling campaign]". So it sounds as if diesel buses may be the only contributor to an unhealthy air environment around schools.

Admittedly, in spite of the result stated above, they oddly conclude that "Anti-idling campaigns are effective in reducing PM2.5, EC and PNC at schools with significant amounts of buses and passenger cars." So perhaps they still need grant money.


24 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Very nice effort to get kids out to walk to school.
Turns out, the effort was not seriously exercised.

For all those children that walked along West Las Positas between Foothill Road and Hopyard Road, walked along side a solid line of bumper to bumper exhaust spewing motor vehicles, for that entire stretch.

When I was a kid, I rode a horse to school.


6 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Oct 11, 2015 at 8:13 am

Great job kids! Any interest in taking on the issue of the air quality around Habit Burger on Bernal?


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 9:36 am

Every ten minutes of idling puts one pound of CO2 into the atmosphere, so, even if local particulate pollution isn't significantly reduced, reducing idling will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in general. So, more power to the kids!

I am routinely appalled by how often I witness people leaving cars idling in parking lots while getting their morning coffees, or even while song some shopping. What possible benefit do they think they gain?

& one time, even, idling engine A/C blasting, sunroof open...


2 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 12, 2015 at 10:19 am

It's going to be hot again this week which = more idling.
I don't like this practise either but when you're in a car sitting in the sun in 95 degree weather for even a few minutes it gets pretty toasty, even with the windows open.
I know, find a place in the shade and walk back to the school but that's too "inconvienient" for many.


2 people like this
Posted by Nathan Rimani
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 13, 2015 at 9:16 am

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4 people like this
Posted by Bon-Bon
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 13, 2015 at 9:43 am

How bout yall boiis walk yo butts to school


Like this comment
Posted by Steven
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 13, 2015 at 11:17 am

Steven is a registered user.

As the study I cited concluded, "The outdoor concentrations of pollutants at schools with fewer buses (n = 5-11) were not significantly reduced."

So even when you believe that CO2 is a pollutant, anti-idling campaigns for cars do not result in a reduction in CO2.


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:32 pm

That's outdoor concentration of pollutants at schools, i.e. measured at the school. It is simple math that if you run the cars longer you release more pollutants into the atmosphere. Diesel buses release more particulate pollutants than cars. The study measures pollutants at the school, but does not mention increases in carbon into the atmosphere in general. All it suggests is that local concentrations of pollutants around the school are not significantly increased, which only suggests that the pollutants released from cars does not linger around the school, which is logical if the cars are in the open air. But that doesn't address the simple fact that if you leave your car running, anywhere, you are producing more pollution, and releasing more carbon into the atmosphere. (and yes, CO2 in the quantities produced by the burning of fossil fuels IS a pollutant)


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:37 pm

The abstract of this paper, also, concludes both that air pollutants near schools may significantly exceed community background levels, AND that anti-idling is successful in reducing certain pollutants where there are significant numbers of buses and cars.

"The concentration of air pollutants near schools may significantly exceed community background levels, particularly in the presence of idling school buses. Anti-idling campaigns are effective in reducing PM2.5, EC and PNC at schools with significant amounts of buses and passenger cars."

This also suggests another thing: the anti-idling campaign may be most successful in getting buses to stop idling and much less so with the cars. Perhaps the idling parents didn't take it all as seriously as an affiliated school bus driver, thus giving this result. ... maybe...


Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 14, 2015 at 6:40 am

I don't think we need a fancy study to know that a car with it's engine on pollutes the air vs a car that is not running. Multipy that by the number of cars waiting in line each morning and afternoon 5 days a week and anyone can conclude that significant amounts of pollution are entering the air from this practice.
Maybe an idea would be for the schools to ban idling cars from their parking lots altogether as others have suggested. Force parents to either park in the school parking lot, if there's room (with the engine off), or park elsewhere and walk back to pick up their kid.
It's ironic that in school kids are being taught to protect our enviornment, then they come out to a line of idling cars spewing pollution, a practice which is condoned by the very people teaching them otherwise.


2 people like this
Posted by Gavin McCarroll
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 14, 2015 at 7:59 am

Really??????? How about you just walk home


2 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 14, 2015 at 8:10 am

Love that idea the most but in reality, unless someone forces the issue, people will take the path of least resistance.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:16 am

@Gavin,

Because it is 3 miles. That would be about an hour each way. Bus or car works. Walking, no.


2 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:51 pm

BobB - I see a lot of bicycles coming out of Hart every day. That cuts down the 3 mile issue for at least the middle school kids and older.
Most of Pleasanton is flat and very condusive to bicycling - too bad that angle can't be developed and encouraged more.


2 people like this
Posted by Gavin McCarroll
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Ed- thanks for backing up my cause. You a real one.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

@Ed,

Thanks for the suggestion, and it's what I did 35 years ago. But looking at the current traffic and the route my kids would need to take to get to PMS and Amador, I'd rather have them take the bus.


2 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Steven is a registered user.

We don't allow our child to cross two crazy traffic filled streets on the way home from Hart. Buses would be great if the stop wasn't a half mile away, especially if we could count on it actually arriving each day. (Did Wheels have any punishment for not picking up a whole neighborhood of kids this week?)

Of course I discount the impact of CO2 on the environment because of the (so called) "Pause". So for me, I trust that my catalytic converter and other sensors and pollution reduction devices in modern vehicles has reduced pollution concerns from a low idling engine to near zero.

Frankly, I'm more concerned about the impact of GMO foods on our kids than any sort of "warming" of our unimaginably massive atmosphere/ecosystem, and our government and schools aren't doing or saying anything about that.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:52 pm

@Steven,

GMO foods? Where have scientists ever found any kind of link between eating GMO foods and any kind of health problem?


2 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:58 pm

So if the streets are too busy, then how about deploying more crossing guards during the time the kids are travelling to and from? How about coning off a lane here or there on thoroughfares to make a safety zone? How about the schools incentivizing kids/parents to use bicycles (free Jamba Juice to daily riders every other Friday, or being the first to get out when the bell rings, or having their pictures put up around school).


2 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 14, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Steven is a registered user.

Ed - Excellent suggestions as an alternative to "Stop the Idling" campaigns. Let's actually help our kids be safe. Let's start with the Hopyard crossing. There should be two crossing guards and perhaps a police vehicle there every day.


2 people like this
Posted by Gavin McCarroll
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 14, 2015 at 3:03 pm

GMO foods actually have been proven unhealthy by many studies @bobB


2 people like this
Posted by Gavin McCarroll
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm

It's banned in 30 countries


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm

@Gavin

Any links to scientific studies?

"It's banned in 30 countries"

Does that mean there's something wrong with it, or are governments just responding to people who are afraid of it.

There aren't many people in the scientific community with the opinion that GMO based foods are in any way more harmful than non-GMO foods. I think people without training in genetics often don't understand what they are.

I'm strongly in favor of growing/producing more of them and would and do gladly feed them to my children. I would much rather my kids eat GMO foods 3 meals a day than have them ride a bike 3 miles to PMS rather than take the bus. That risk comparison is a no-brainer.

We also vaccinate. There is no link between autism and vaccination.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Emissions from modern cars are a lot better than they used to be but still far from "near zero". That's quite a bit of CO and NOx still coming out of tailpipes.


Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I know my car doesn't put out dangerous emissions. It has passed every emissions test. I have a VW.


4 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:47 am

Get the facts - Ha! love it.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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