• How Does ‘Idling’ Affect the Environment? WeCare4Air Explores

Air Monitoring

How Does ‘Idling’ Affect the Environment? WeCare4Air Explores

Jul 08 2015

How often do you find yourself queued in traffic? Many of us will have spent significant amounts of time at a standstill on motorways or on gridlocked roads at rush hour. But do you actually turn off your engine when your vehicle is stopped?

What is Idling?

Leaving your engine running while stationary is known as ‘idling’. According to David Mackay, one of the UK’s leading air quality experts and Technical Manager at WeCare4Air, idling causes immediate increases in air pollution.

During recent real-time air monitoring outside London’s Supreme Court - where a unanimous decision was made to order a new air quality plan from the government - Mr Mackay observed that even a short stop of 2-3 minutes with a vehicle’s engine left running has a big impact on air quality.  

Britain’s Air Quality Shortcomings, And What It Means

The Supreme Court case, against the Environment Secretary by campaign group ClientEarth, argued that the Government must act to reduce air pollution in 16 major UK zones. While British cities are under obligation to meet EU pollution limits by 2010, many of the country’s biggest populaces including London, Leeds and Birmingham are at risk of exceeding these targets by two entire decades.

Each and every year, air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths. Startlingly, that’s more than obesity and alcohol combined, which means idling is more than just an environmental issue. The health of our entire nation is at stake.

Aside from the environmental and health impact of idling, British drivers are also at risk of damaging their vehicles and wasting fuel, which can soon add up financially. Mr Mackay pointed out that there are 25,000 taxis in London. So, to save 3 million hours of pollution, each of those taxis would simply have to stop idling for 90 seconds per fare.

A Quest to Beat Air Pollution

Air quality is a major concern for WeCare4Air, an organisation that monitors pollution for service and maintenance contracts and local site operation. WeCare4Air also educates about the dangers of air pollution in conjunction with schools, local authorities and the general public.

WeCare4Air was invited by Sky News to monitor real-time air quality on the day of the Supreme Court ruling. David Mackay and his team used an analyser called the EC Airpointer, which is designed to monitor air pollutants including O3, No2, Nox, S02, CO, PM10 and PM2.5.

If you’d like to know more about the effects of traffic pollution read the following articles, Traffic pollution causes many child asthma cases and Traffic pollution can increase risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women by a third.


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