photo_heartland_101_201612

Heartland 101 December 2016: Idle Free Helps Keep Our Air Clean

photo_heartland_101_201612Most of the time, air quality in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is of low risk to health, as indicated by the Air Quality Health Index. However, with frigid temperatures like we’ve experienced lately, combined with calm winds, fine particulate matter and other pollutants can be trapped close to the ground by warmer air aloft. This can negatively affect our air quality and people’s health.

Controlling Fine Particulate Matter

In 2015, a Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Response Plan was implemented for the Capital Region, which encompasses Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The plan aimed at reducing levels of PM2.5, improving air quality awareness, and encouraging action to help keep our air clean.

Some sources of particulate matter, like industrial emissions, stay fairly constant year round. But colder weather in the winter results in more roaring fire places and idling vehicles. And this leads to higher levels of particulate matter, which are the tiny particles of solids and liquids floating in the air.

Maintaining clean air in our region is a shared responsibility with those who have an impact on our air. That includes industry and individuals. As vehicle emissions are a contributing source of PM2.5, one of the simplest ways that individuals can help reduce PM2.5 is by reducing idling time.

Idle Free Tips

  • Most passenger vehicles need less than 60 seconds to ‘warm up’. Wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires are only warmed when the vehicle is moving. It typically takes at least five kilometres or two to three minutes of driving to warm up these components in cold weather.
  • Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine. It’s cheaper and better for the environment if you shut off your vehicle while in a drive-thru, stopped at a railway crossing, or waiting for someone.
  • During colder temperatures, use a block heater to reduce warm up idling time. This can cut winter fuel consumption by 10%.

Measuring air quality

Fort Air Partnership monitors the air people breathe in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. It reports a current and forecast Air Quality Health Index at fortair.org. People can also view near real time hourly readings from Fort Air Partnership’s continuous monitoring stations. Fort Air Partnership works with industry, government, and the community to monitor and report on air quality within and surrounding Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.

For more information about Life in the Heartland, visit lifeintheheartland.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or email info@lifeintheheartland.com.