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Idle-Free Schools

MT VERNON, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- It's just minutes before the Friday dismissal bell at Washington Elementary.

Anticipation for the weekend is at a fever pitch and with a lot full of carsthe sound of silence fills the air.

If we're sitting here, there's no reason to sit here with our cars on, parent Jaimie Hanson said, as she waited for her children.

There were no engines running, and no mufflers rumbling, because Mt. Vernon schools are now idle free zones. The policy was put into place for the first time this school year.

If you're going to be waiting more than 10 seconds, turn your vehicle off, said Amy Drahos with Linn County Public Health.

Linn County Public Health officials have been performing studies around the school district, looking at pollution and its effects on school children.

Vehicle exhaust can exacerbate asthma symptoms as well as other respiratory illnesses. Drahos said.

She says Asthma can lead to more sick days.

That's the leading cause of school absenteeism, and also the third leading cause of hospitalization in the United States.

A study at one Mt. Vernon school found that parents idled an average of five hours a day, which translates to 1,000 hours per school year. It also found that more than 800 pounds of pollution were being released into the air.

The school district is also leading by example.

All our school busses go up and we shut them off while we're loading and unloading, bus driver Jeff Merritt said. You're saving fuel cost, when the vehicle is sitting there not running you're saving money.

Everybody seems to be on board with the no idle zones, even if it means a little sacrifice.

It's not so much fun in the middle of summer, but anything we can do to help, parent Alason Jones said.

Linn County Public Health says currently, 50% of air pollution comes from mobile sources like cars.

They hope to get this policy not only at schools, but in places all over Linn County.
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