Public Health

Posted on: November 15, 2013

Some Linn County Schools Go Idle Free

Idle Free Zone.jpg


LINN COUNTY, IA - As school starts, parents and visitors to the Mt. Vernon Community School District (MVCSD) may notice something a little different this fall. Based on the assessment recommendations from Linn County Public Health (LCPH), Mt. Vernon’s school board took action this summer to improve student health by passing a vehicle idle reduction policy for MVCSD campuses. Vehicle idling refers to when a car or bus is parked with the engine running.

The policy will reduce school fleet idling and provides guidelines for parents and visitors to limit idling while parked at Mt. Vernon schools. Superintendent Gary O’Malley encourages other schools to adopt an idle reduction policy, and says “working with Linn County Public Health was a great partnership. Together we can make sure that the whole community benefits.”

Idle Free Linn is an initiative led by LCPH dedicated to reducing vehicle idling. “Idle Free Linn encourages Linn County residents, schools, businesses, and municipalities to follow the 10 Second Rule,” says Amy Drahos, Sr. Air Quality Scientist for LCPH. “Turn off your engine if you will be waiting for more than ten seconds. This simple act improves air quality, reduces exposure to harmful pollutants, and saves money on wasted fuel and vehicle wear and tear.”

Motor vehicle exhaust is a significant source of air pollution in Linn County, and idling vehicles add unnecessary air toxics and fine particles to the air. These pollutants negatively impact human health and the environment. Children are also more susceptible to the negative health effects of air pollution because they take approximately twice as many breaths per minute as an adult and are closer to exhaust pipes where pollutants are more concentrated.1

Linn-Mar Community School District (Linn-Mar) has also been a leader in vehicle idling reduction, adopting policy for the school vehicle fleet in 2008. Superintendent Katie Mulholland says, "Our families, teachers, staff, bus drivers and delivery drivers are all asked to turn off their vehicles if they are waiting more than 10 seconds. At Linn-Mar, we're proud to do our part for cleaner air for all to breathe and to protect the health of our Linn-Mar students."

Other Linn County schools have joined the Idle Free Linn initiative and are educating parents about the negative health impacts vehicle idling has on children and staff. St. Matthew’s Elementary School in Cedar Rapids and Center Point-Urbana Community School District are encouraging parents and visitors to turn off vehicles when parked on school grounds by posting “Idle Free Zone” signs.

To learn more about idle reduction in schools, businesses, municipalities, and personal vehicles, visit www.idlefreelinn.org or contact Linn County Public Health at (319)-892-6000.

1 KAIRE, Kentuckiana Air Education website


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For more information, contact Amy Drahos, phone: 319.892.6012 and email: amy.drahos@linncounty.org.

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