June 10, 2005

The Regional Municipality of York asks drivers to help reduce air pollution

NEWMARKET - The Regional Municipality of York is making breathing a little easier this summer by asking drivers to turn off their engines to help reduce air pollution during Idle-Free Week in the GTA from June 13 to 17.  
“If every motorist in the GTA reduced their idling time by five minutes per day, it would be equivalent to taking 36,900 cars off the road every year,” said Joyce Frustaglio, Regional Councillor and Chair of York Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee. 
“The Regional Municipality of York is among nine GTA municipalities and three regions participating in the campaign,” said Eva Ligeti, Executive Director of the Clean Air Partnership, the organization coordinating the campaign.
“Reducing our vehicle emissions is very important,” commented Dr. Hanif Kassam, Associate Medical Officer of Health for the Region’s Health Services Department.  “More and more people are experiencing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses in York Region every year due to air pollution.” 
The Regional Municipality of York is sending drivers a simple message:
1. Reduce warm-up idling, just turn it on and go.
2. Turn off the engine when stopping for more than 10 seconds, except in traffic. 
“Vehicle idling may seem like a small thing, but when you add up all of the emissions from all of the idling engines in the GTA, the amount is enough to make breathing really difficult for a lot of people,” said Ligeti.  Idling in the GTA adds more than 200,000 tonnes of air pollutants to the atmosphere, enough to fill 200,000 suburban houses.  “The amount of pollution from idling is especially large when you consider how it is totally unnecessary.”
The Regional Municipality of York is getting the message out to drivers by distributing information cards and windshield decals, and asking municipal staff and fleets to reduce their vehicle idling.
“Vehicle exhaust is very dangerous, and it moves across the sky from one region to the next.  Municipalities, regions and organizations are recognizing the benefits of working together to reduce these emissions,” said Ligeti.
“The air is something that connects all of us together and it’s important for everyone to do their part to reduce air pollution, even if it’s just turning a key,” said Councillor Frustaglio. 
The Clean Air Partnership is a charitable organization that works in partnership to promote and coordinate improvements to local air quality.  This campaign is a collaborative partnership between the Clean Air Partnership, Natural Resources Canada and municipal members of the GTA-Clean Air Council.
For more information about Idle-Free Week or any other health-related topic contact
York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 (toll free) or visit www.york.ca.
Contact:   Kim Clark, York Region Health Services
(905) 830-4444, ext. 4101
Email: kim.clark@york.ca

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