Prattville – The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Alabama Department of Education (ALDOE) have partnered to develop a program that will protect the health of children and ensure clean air at schools in the state.
A press conference was held at Prattville Primary School this morning to discuss the No Idling Campaign, a program that would require buses and other vehicles to turn off their engines while parked outside of school buildings.
Over the upcoming months, No Idling signs will be strategically posted around local schools and an awareness campaign will be initiated to inform parents, bus drivers, and school administrators of the potential negative health impacts of leaving vehicles idling while waiting to drop off or pick up school children.
Also, as part of the awareness campaign, parents of school children can sign a No Idling pledge to document their commitment to participate in this effort.
Scott Hughes, ADEM spokesman, stated that the Prattville school system was interested in actually implementing the No Idling Campaign.
“There are so many benefits to the program,” said Hughes. “It doesn’t cost anything because you are just trying to change a behavior, it saves gas, there is no additional wear and tear on the bus or car from not emitting exhaust, and the health benefits are great.”
Mayor Jim Byard Jr. said that the City already had a no idling policy in place, to exclude emergency vehicles, which started a couple of years ago, and believes that schools should implement the policy.
“I think it is vitally important for parents picking up their children to be mindful of their vehicle emissions,” he said.
District IV Councilman and Assistant State Health Officer for Personal & Community Health, Dr. Tom Miller, related that 13-14% of children have asthma-related conditions, and when a large concentration of cars and buses are left idling it can trigger an asthma attack in the child.
“Children are also shorter so they are at a level where they can get more exposure from emissions,” Miller said.
In addition to Byard and Miller, State Representative Mac Gipson, representatives of the partnering agencies, Greg Faulkner, Superintendent, Autauga County School System, and other local officials were in attendance during the conference.
Article by Melissa Parker
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