the facts

To understand the health risks of car idling, we need to identify what comes out of the tailpipe. One side effect of idling is the particulate matter that is released into the air. 

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What is particulate matter?

Particulate matter refers to tiny particles of solid or semi-solid material suspended in the atmosphere. This includes particles between 0.1 micron and 50 microns in diameter. Particles larger than 50 microns tend to settle out quickly due to gravity. Particles smaller than 0.1 microns tend to act like molecules.

How does particulate matter affect our health?

The health risk from particulates is a function of the size and concentration of the dose inhaled. PM10 (a type of particulate) can be breathed into the lungs, and therefore, its health effects are more severe than large particles. PM2.5 can be breathed even more deeply into the alveoli of the lungs, where they remain for a long time and can cause the greatest amount of damage. Particulate matter can reduce lung functioning and can cause or aggravate respiratory conditions, and increase the long term risk of lung cancer or other lung diseases such as emphysema, bronchiectasis, pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic lungs.

Now that you know what particulate matter is, let's look at what it does. 

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A recent study published in The Lancet suggests that living near a major roadway may raise the risk of dementia. Researchers found that residents in Ontario had about 7% higher risk of developing dementia if they lived within 50 meters of a major roadway.


This recent study joins several other reports associating higher exposure to air pollution—such as that from car exhaust—with a higher risk of dementia or lower average cognitive function in older adults 

effects on our planet

When you idle your car, not only is it bad for the people around you, but it's bad for the whole world. 

Idling your car for even 5 minutes each day dumps 260 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air each year.  


Effects on your wallet

If you idle your car for 15 minutes a day, you’ll be wasting $4 per week on gas. This adds up to over $200 per year!

Consider Electric

An electric car is a great alternative. Electricity is much cheaper than gas, you can easily recharge at home or on the go, and they save the environment. Go emission-free, drive an EV! 

Click the car for a helpful EV buying guide!

Effects on children

In a study appearing in the Feb 17 issue of The Lancet, it was found that children living near a major highway are more likely to develop asthma and other respiratory diseases, and their lung development may also be stunted. The study, conducted by researchers from the Keck School Of Medicine followed more than 3,600 children and evaluated them starting at the age of 10 up until high school graduation. W. James Glaunderman, an associate preventative medicine Profesor at the Keck School Of Medicine, said, "Otherwise healthy children who were non-asthmatic and non-smokers also experienced a significant decrease in lung function from traffic pollution." Car exhaust affects everyone, not just susceptible subgroups. The effects of car exhaust are severely detrimental to children, and it is important to consider this when you are idling.  

Summary of "Health Effects from Car Exhaust Can Last A Lifetime" by Jennifer Chan

Read the full article here