Idle Free

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency is here to help your school, business or community launch an Idle-Free Campaign to improve your local air quality. We’ll provide free signs, brochures, support materials and guidance. Download the Be Idle Free brochure here. To learn what idling is and why it is a problem, read on!

What Is Idling?

An idling vehicle is one that has a running engine when it is parked or not in use. The most common reasons for engine idling are:

  • warming up the car
  • waiting for someone
  • running an errand 
  • personal comfort
  • listening to the radio

Idling Wastes Money and Natural Resources

  • Thirty seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. If you are stopped for more than 30 seconds, except in traffic, turn off your engine.
  • An idling car is the most inefficient car on the road—it gets 0 miles per gallon. Turning off your car will save gas and money.

Idling Negatively Affects the Environment

Car exhaust contains three of the six major air pollutants that are harmful to the environment and public health: carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM).

  • Vehicle exhaust also contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are chemicals in the air that can potentially cause health effects.
  • Nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds can have a chemical reaction that creates ozone—another major air pollutant.
  • Mobile sources (including cars and trucks) are the #1 source of air pollution in the Southwest Ohio region.

Idling Harms Our Health

Vehicle exhaust can adversely affect lung function and may promote allergic reactions and airway constriction. Medical research reveals a connection between high air pollution rates and higher asthma rates.

  • All vehicles emit very fine particles that can deeply penetrate lungs and inflame the circulatory system, damaging cells and causing respiratory problems.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because they breathe faster than adults and inhale more air per pound of body weight.