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Utah Celebrates 15 Years of Idle Free Awareness and Action for 2022-2023 Winter Season


September marks the 15th Annual Governor Declaration for Idle Free in Utah September 2022 and the 2022-2023 Winter Season. The Governor’s Declaration is currently supported by over 60 Utah Mayors who represent more than ¾ of the state’s population. The highly anticipated event was held on Thursday, September 1st at 11 AM at the Utah State Capitol. Key leaders and advocates for the Idle Free shared their stories, work and support of this unique Utah campaign for clean air and zero emissions. 

This is the 15th anniversary of Utah’s beloved Idle Free Campaign, “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free” and the annual opportunity to announce Utah’s official Idle Free Month and Winter Season 2022-2023.  Today we reflect on the past 15 years with a sense of accomplishment. This initiative has inspired statewide idle free policies, as well as action by school districts, cities, towns, counties, and Zion National Park. We recognize the consistent hard work of the Bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, Utah Idle Free fleets and most importantly, the collective of individual action- a ten-second commitment to turn the key.” Tammie Bostick, Executive Director, Utah Clean Cities

In 2021, Utah Clean Cities and Intermountain Healthcare partnered to bring awareness to the impacts idling has on individual and community health through an updated signage campaign.  These updated visual images of the Idle Free signs can be seen throughout Intermountain Healthcare Campuses. Ten signs were installed at Utah Valley Hospital in September 2021. These signs remind visitors of the importance of turning off our vehicles to support the safety and well-being of employees, patients, and visitors. 

This year, we continue to applaud the efforts of those utilizing and supporting Idle Free Education Programs including Utah Clean Cities, UCAIR, Breathe Utah, Utah Society for Environmental Education and the State Health Department’s Asthma Program and Recess Guide. These grass-roots programs reach over 15,000 students, and continue to grow across 425 schools. 

The Turn your Key, Be Idle Free program recognizes the Utah cities that are officially Idle Free cities. To date, the cities of Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper City, Holladay, Logan, Millcreek, Murray City, Park City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Sandy, South Jordan and Springdale all have Idle Free City Ordinances. Zion National Park is also Idle Free.

Cameron Diehl, Utah Clean Air Partnership; Debbie Lyons, SLCgreen, SLC Sustainability; Representative Joel Briscoe, Bi-partisan Clean Air Caucus; Tammie Bostick, Utah Clean Cities; Pilar Pobil, Utah Artist

The summer of 2022 brought high temperatures across the Wasatch Front, including a record-breaking number of days above 100 degrees. Along with soaring temperatures comes an increased exposure to ground-level ozone, a pollutant formed from the reactions between Nitric Oxide (NOx), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), heat, and sunshine. Although we cannot see or smell this harmful pollutant, ozone is unhealthy and it has been likened to getting a sunburn on our lungs. 

Ozone and PM2.5 from vehicle emissions, along with the wildfire smoke that Utahns frequently experience, negatively impacts the health of Utah communities and disproportionately affects historically disadvantaged populations. The transportation sector – both individuals and fleets – can work to lessen the harmful effects of poor air quality with simple actions, such as “turn your key, be idle free”. Local government entities, businesses, fleets and many Utah communities are raising the bar for partnership with this annual reminder to curb unnecessary idling. 

“We are excited to recognize the commitment from Utah communities with the fifteenth year of “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free”.  We all play a part in Utah’s air quality, and even simple changes have a big impact on our air. Being idle-free, carpooling, or riding transit help every Utahn breathe easier. City leaders are striving to reduce our emissions in our buildings and vehicles. We challenge everyone to continue improving our air quality!” – Cameron Diehl, Executive Director, Utah League of Cities and Towns, Board Member, UCAIR. 

The Bipartisan Utah Clean Air Caucus was started after a series of detestable inversions and consists of Republican and Democratic representatives and senators hailing from the Salt Lake valley to the rural corners of the state. The caucus seeks to address in earnest our state’s serious non-attainment issues and consider policies to mitigate Utah’s poor air quality. The current co-chair and original founding member, Rep. Joel Briscoe spoke today and shared the following,

“The Bipartisan Utah Clean Air Caucus was started ten years ago in 2013 in the winter of a serious PM2.5 inversion. The Clean Air Caucus meets several times every year to get up to speed on air quality issues and to work on policy and appropriations to tackle our state’s serious non-attainment issues and to mitigate Utah’s air quality which ranks as some of the worst in the nation during inversion season.” – Rep. Joel Briscoe, co-chair, Bi-Partisan Legislative Clean Air Caucus

Air quality is a complex issue. In Utah, air pollution issues are particularly fraught with unique challenges, including distinctive local topography, heavy transportation traffic, and a high density population. There is no simple solution to solving our air pollution challenges, but focusing on transportation makes common sense. Vehicle exhaust makes up about half of the air pollution in Utah, and unnecessary idling contributes a significant amount of emissions into our air shed each day. 

The Bi-partisan Clean Air Caucus was not the only active voice in the notable “bad inversion year” here in Utah the winter of 2013. Renowned Utah artist Pilar Pobil painted Under the Great Seal of the State of Utah in an artist effort to urge elected officials to take affirmative action. The painting shows legislators flying around the state capitol building, depicted as a beehive, far above the winter inversion and the people below are caught in smog. The citizens struggle in the smog while the flying legislators seem oblivious.

Pilar Pobil, Tammie Bostick in from of Pilar’s ‘Under the Great Seal of the State of Utah”

“Growing up on an idyllic Mediterranean island, I was immersed in the wonder of nature. I developed a strong sense of respect for our natural world and the need to protect it. In 2013, I was inspired to paint Under the Great Seal of the State of Utah after a particularly bad air inversion during the legislative session. I felt our elected officials could and should do more to clean our air and protect nature.” – Pilar Pobil, Utah Artist, “Under the Great Seal of the State of Utah”

Over 80 Utah fleets make a commitment each year with Utah Clean Cities, and the communities they serve, to operate Idle Free. Based on Utah Clean Cities 2021 annual report data, the Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free program reduced more than 200,000 lbs. of criteria pollutants in 2021. In total, the program reduced more than 13,942 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the last year. That is equivalent to 1,183,139 gallons of gasoline. 

“Salt Lake City was one of the first cities in Utah to adopt an idle free ordinance. Something as simple as turning off your car when you’re waiting for the kids, or sitting at a drive-thru, is one easy way for everyone to do their part. This simple action of ‘turning your key to be idle free’ will go a long way to clean our air.” – Debbie Lyons, Director, Salt LakeCity Department of Sustainability


Do Yourself A Favor: ‘Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free!’

Brinley Wilson, Utah Clean Cities

What Is Idling? 

Idling is running a vehicle’s propulsion engine when the vehicle isn’t moving. While idling can be difficult to avoid or even necessary for some vehicles, such as to provide a source of power for primarily on-duty police vehicles or semi-truck drivers, most idling is wasteful and avoidable. 


Who Cares? We Do and So Should You!  

You may be wondering why the minimal act of turning your key to be idle free matters. Simply put, idling threatens environmental and community health, causes engine wear leading to unnecessary expenses, produces significant pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is sometimes unlawful. 

While you might think that idling in the carpool line, at the drive-thru window or in your driveway during a harsh winter’s day can’t do much harm and is rather advantageous for your vehicle, you are sorely mistaken. 

Idling often occurs in small moments, but let us imagine the cumulative impact of idling. Consider that idling in the U.S. uses more than 6 billion gallons of fuel at a cost of more than $20 billion to consumers and businesses per year.

According to Argonne National Laboratory research: 

  • Idling vehicles use more fuel than does restarting your car
  • Restarting your vehicle will not wear out the started
  • Idling your vehicle wastes about 0.3 gal/h and a large truck about 1 gal/h. 
  • Each gallon of fuel burned emits about 20 lb. of carbon dioxide
  • Idling is illegal in some areas and can result in substantial fines


The Winter Myth 

One of the most circulated myths about idling is that you must warm your vehicle engine before driving it. The truth is that on cold winter days, an engine can circulate oil throughout the engine in 30 seconds, and excessive idling can actually lead to damage to either the engine or exhaust system. 

The Department of Energy says, “Avoid idling. Think about it — idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.”

Furthermore, the EPA states that “When a car idles for more than 30 seconds, it has several negative effects, such as increasing air pollution unnecessarily, wasting fuel and money, and causing excessive wear or even damaging a car’s engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system. Contrary to popular belief, idling isn’t an effective way to warm up most car engines. Today’s automobile manufacturers recommend driving off right away and urge that drivers wait no more than 30 seconds to begin driving, even on the coldest days.”


Idling Impacts Community Health 

As mentioned, each gallon of fuel burned emits about 20 lbs. of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Moreover, tailpipe emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. This pollution produces adverse effects on our health and environment. And since children are closer to the tailpipe, have a faster breathing rate and have developing lungs, they are more vulnerable to pollution than adults. This can lead to a development in health complications throughout a child’s life. When you choose to “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free,’ you choose to help children breathe easier and cleaner air.


Location, Location, Location

Depending on your location, vehicle type/weight, fuel type and outside temperature, idling may be illegal. 

In Utah, vehicle exhaust makes up over 50% of the air pollution. The unnecessary idling of cars and buses contribute a significant amount of emissions released into the air each day.

Salt Lake City’s Idle Free Ordinance prohibits unnecessary vehicle idling over two minutes within city limits. The ordinance is enforceable on public property and private property open to the public (i.e. drive-through windows and parking lots). Three warnings will be issued before any fines are levied. Once a fine is issued, the traditional parking fee structure applies:

  • Paid in less than 10 days – $15
  • 11 to 20 days – $55
  • 21 to 30 days – $85
  • 31 to 40 days – $125

Exemptions to the city’s Idle Free Ordinance can be found at slc.gov. 

Utah Clean Cities wants to encourage and educate communities on what the individual can do about idling. 

We highly recommend being aware and educating other drivers about the effects of idling. 

If you find yourself in an unmoving vehicle, be sure to turn the engine off, and when possible, use waiting rooms at depots and assembly areas instead of idling. 

Engage with community leaders and members by advocating for an idling reduction policy, ask drivers to pledge to reduce idling, host an idling reduction workshop or driver training sessions and provide material to the community as a reminder not to idle. Idle Free materials including Idle Free packets, brochures, posters, cards and stickers are provided by UCC, available here.


UCC Statement of Solidarity in Racial Justice, Equity and Accessibility

UCC Statement of Solidarity in Racial Justice, Equity and Accessibility

Utah Clean Cities acknowledges and condemns racism, racially motivated violence and discrimination in all of its forms. We support and demand justice among communities of color, in Utah and nationwide. 

Systemic racism demands systemic solutions that are based on listening, learning, empathy, solidarity and action. No matter what lane we occupy in driving a sustainable future, we can and will find ways to center and support racial justice. The ongoing movement of social justice presents us with an opportunity to listen to one another, heighten our awareness, increase our compassion and heed the call to action that must happen now.

As an organization focused on transportation and sustainability, we want to ensure equitable access to resources for individuals from all communities that will lead to a positive change in the clean, safe and healthy communities that we all deserve.

We are committed to listening. We are committed to action. 

We are committed to being mindful of diverse voices in our workplace and elevating the voices of people of color.   We will engage with and listen intently to communities that have been marginalized by structural racism. We will provide decision-makers with up to date information and opportunities that promote social justice and equity and work in earnest to improve the economic opportunity of all Utahns. 

We are committed to providing free Idle Free materials and resources for all schools in Utah. We support students who want to contribute to the solutions for our changing climate by hosting their stories and art and helping them campaign at their schools for air quality and idle-free education. 

We are committed to providing strategies to transition to clean and renewable transportation systems in communities of color thus offering emission-free transport in areas that are most affected by Utah’s poor air quality.

We are committed to elevating the voices of people of color to make necessary systemic changes. 


-Utah Clean Cities Team






Celebrating Untamed Ogden’s Air

Celebrating Untamed Ogden’s Air

What does it mean to have a sense of place? Why do certain places have greater meaning for us than others? Why are some people drawn to the desert, while others to the mountains or water?

Setting aside a land formation from the land surrounding it by naming it, describing it, and sharing your emotional reaction to it sets it apart from the everyday.  A sense of place is a feeling of ownership or personal investment. It is cultural evidence of our connection with the land.

Ogden City’s slogan, “Still Untamed,” owns our gritty history and beautifully diverse community, while cleverly touting Ogden’s well-deserved status as an outdoor recreation hub. My sense of place in my Ogden community includes hiking, biking, five years as an outdoor environmental educator at the Ogden Nature Center and six years as a classroom teacher at DaVinci Academy. It includes involvement in conservation, student empowerment, and the idle-free movement. I have been proud to be involved in the adoption of idle-free status for multiple schools, businesses, and one church. A few faces from the last two years’ graduating classes are just recognizable in the photo below. In it beaming seventh and eighth grade students proudly wave signs to educate parents about the dangers of idling cars outside their school during an Idle Free Week in 2013.  

The recent Every Utah Kid Outdoors legislation advocates for Utah’s children and their right to grow up experiencing our breathtakingly beautiful, ecologically-diverse landscapes. Our state is, as I tell my students, “postcard perfect, every single day.” We live in a place that is visited by one-third of the Earth’s migratory bird population, owing to the precious and delicate Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Utah is home to nine Dark Sky Parks! We are blessed to live within a couple of hours’ drive of desert, mountain, forest, or riparian ecosystems in Utah, not to mention the sites of some of the most abundant dinosaur quarries. Our parks are international tourist destinations, and people from all over the globe come here to ski. But, in order for Utah’s kids to grow up appreciating these spaces, they must get outside and experience them. In order for these spaces to be experienced, they must be preserved. And we must make sure that the environment around these places is a safe place for children to explore.

Two of my high school conservation club students recently approached Ogden City Council, sharing their own research on our local air pollution problems and charging the Council with the responsibility to take action and lead by example. Council Member Luis Lopez agreed to take action to preserve the health of our children and their ability to safely explore outdoors by sponsoring an Ogden air quality ordinance, now being drafted with the aid of Ogden’s new Sustainability Committee. This is something to celebrate! I want to thank Mr. Lopez for responding to our youth, when they asked if they could count on their City Council to protect the health of Ogden’s children, “You can count on me.” I understand that the Council Chair and Vice Chair have made this an immediate priority, and I thank them as well.   




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Utah Legislative Updates 2019

Follow along with the bills Utah Clean Cities is tracking this year throughout the 2019 Utah State Legislative Session.

By Ashley Miller, Breathe Utah

H.B. 107 Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act Amendments

HB107 allows the Utah Public Service Commission to authorize a large-scale natural gas utility to establish programs that promote sustainable energy solutions. A large-scale natural gas utility’s spending would be capped annually at $10M. The cost impact to customers would not be significant. For example, if the utility invested $15-$30M in infrastructure to support RNG production and CNG station infrastructure, the cost to the average Utah residential customer would be approximately $0.16 – $0.33 per month.


H.B. 139 Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments

Rep. Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City) is bringing back a bill that simply ran out of time last year. Her Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments bill, HB 139, increases the fines for diesel truck owners who intentionally tamper with the emissions controls of their engines to emit plumes of black exhaust from their tailpipes.

A first offense is increased from $50 to $100, and a subsequent offense increases from $100 to $500.

It is illegal for excessive visible exhaust to be emitted from vehicles that have removed or altered the emissions controls. This bill will help strengthen the existing law by requiring a stronger line of communication between law enforcement who gives a citation, to local health departments who run the emissions inspection programs. Offenders will be reported to the health department, which will, in theory, flag a visual inspection when the vehicle is brought in for its emissions inspection.


H.B. 148 Vehicle Idling Revisions

Idle Free is a popular air quality campaign in Utah. It’s simple and straightforward: Don’t idle. Eight Utah cities currently have an idle-free ordinance on the books: Salt Lake City, Park City, Logan, Alta, Holladay, Murray, Sandy and Cottonwood Heights.

More cities are interested in the program, but are hindered by enforcement issues due to an ambiguous 2012 state law which many say defeats the intended purpose of reducing emissions from idling vehicles.

Rep. Patrice Arent (D-Millcreek), is running HB 148, which will repeal the idling provisions written in this state law.


H.C.R. 3 Concurrent Resolution Urging the Environmental Protection Agency to Update Switcher Locomotive Emission Standards &

H.B. 98 Freight Switcher Emissions Mitigation

Last year, Representative Steve Handy (R-Layton) ran a bill that would help address a significant source of air pollution in our valley—pollution from freight switcher locomotives (See CATALYST, March 2018). Freight switchers are locomotives that shuttle train cars around rail yards before they’re shipped across the country. Each unit comes with a price tag of over $1.5 million and a useful life of up to 60 years.

The ones operating in our non-attainment areas are extremely dirty tier 0 and tier 0+ engines. The current standard for these locomotives is 80-90% cleaner, but under the Clean Air Act, the state can’t require the companies that own and operate them to upgrade to a cleaner engine.

Representative Handy is addressing air pollution from freight switchers with two bills this session. He is bringing back his bill from last year, HB 98, which will create a funding mechanism to upgrade up to three of these engines. He is also bringing a separate resolution, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to set stricter emissions standards for locomotives. This resolution, HCR 003, acknowledges that the Clean Air Act prohibits states from adopting more stringent emissions standards for switcher locomotives, and recognizes that higher emissions standards for these locomotives would reduce harmful air pollution in our non-attainment areas.


H.C.R. 2 Concurrent Resolution Supporting Renewable and Sustainable Energy Options to Promote Rural Economic Development

H.C.R. 11 Concurrent Resolution Encouraging the Purchase of Tier 3 Gasoline

H.C.R. 13 Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Utah Refiners to Manufacture Tier 3 Gasoline to Improve Air Quality


One Plus One and the 11th Annual Declaration for Idle Free In Utah

One plus one and the 11th Annual Declaration for Idle Free In Utah

What does eleven mean?  One more than ten and yet, in 2018, it means in one year so much can happen.  Does one year make a difference?  I think it can. The collective of many “ones” seems to be the spirit of Utah and the Idle Free movement.  It began with one person talking with another about the pollution that they could see, taste, feel and smell.  The questions grew from one to many, ”what is this black smoke we are seeing coming out of tailpipes?”, and “If it is burning my nose, lungs and eyes, what does that mean long-term for my health and the health of our children’s developing bodies?”  The questions kept coming and the Idle Free movement grew out of the biggest question, “Why Idle?” The question was asked in one fifth-grade classroom in Holladay, and responded to by one teacher, Patti White. Her students asked why the school buses were idling at neighborhood stops and schools zones?  They wanted an answer. And a solution.

This small question led to the action of countless others: big and small players, loud and quiet movements, one and many, again and again. Our collective voices were heard. Notably, Utah Clean Cities and the Utah State Board of Education provided the training to ensure school bus drivers were trained across the state to “Turn the Key and Be Idle Free”.  And they are, every year.  The school bus drivers are some of the biggest advocates, after all, they too are breathing the fumes along with their precious passengers.  Sharing the air at school loading zones are students, crossing guards, faculty and staff, and the people in the idling cars; all breathing the same air.  They are all within the HOT zones of pollution.

To this problem, our resolute and imperturbable Utahns, used warm tones (and sometimes HOT ones) offering solutions, and even demanding them, for the protection of themselves and loved ones at home, school and at work. Utah businesses are an unsung hero of the Idle Free movement, advocating for clean air and reducing costly, senseless wasted fuel and engine wear. Utah Clean Cities has dozens of partners who proudly use the Idle Free driver training, signage and display the little round logo, TURN THE KEY, BE IDLE FREE message on their refuse haulers, company cars, work trucks, buses, vans and heavy-duty equipment.  You can see them in drive-up windows, on doors and in parking lots throughout the state.

The collective of one: one teacher, one student, one mayor, one citizen, one school, one business, one city, and ultimately the one person who turns the key, is what makes this a remarkable grass-root program.  Turn the Key, Be Idle Free has become uniquely Utah’s motto for the environment and clean air.  It has become the movement that belongs to the one individual—the one who has awareness, who cares, and can take individual responsibility. We can all be Idle Free.

The fast turning of time has led to late summer and to the realization that the 11th Declaration for Idle Free Month and Idle Free Season is here again.  I reflected on last year and the great celebration of last year’s milestone 10 Year anniversary event. Many people — ordinary folks and extraordinary leaders –I like to say “from Alta to Zion and everywhere across the state” gathered at the Captiol to celebrate the success of Idle Free.

This year, we decided for the 11th Declaration, we wanted to set a new goal for 70 Mayors (we had 50). Utah leadership responded, and in less than a month of reaching out to Utah mayors for renewed support of the declaration, we surpassed our goal by one… just one more than seventy!

This year the support from Utah cities has grown to a historic high with seventy-one Mayors signing, along with Governor Gary Herbert, in support of Idle Free Awareness Month and Idle Free Utah 2018-2019.  This is highly significant.  Those seventy-one mayors represent the majority of Utah’s population, roughly 76%, and further, all seventeen mayors representing cities in Salt Lake County, along with Mayor Ben McAdams, have signed the Governor’s 2018-2019 Idle Free Declaration.

Join us in celebration!

On September 18th, Utah Clean Cities is celebrating the work of our dedicated partners: the “ones” and the many, the large and the small.  We are proud to announce that eight Utah cities are Idle Free cities complete with Idle Free ordinances and laws supporting local efforts to ensure communities have support with idle free education, signage, and ultimately enforcement if needed.  It’s all the right steps, one at a time, in the right direction.  This movement is important and we challenge every single city and town in Utah, one and all, to join in with the leadership and positive movement for Turn the Key, Be Idle Free.

Breathe Easier, Save Money and Protect Blue Sky. 


Please contact us to become an Idle Free City.  Contact Ashley Miller who diligently works with cities with the help of Breathe Utah and Utah Clean Cities.


Tammie Bostick-Cooper is on her third year with Utah Clean Cities.  She inherited the wonderful grass-roots program from her vigilant predecessors within Utah Clean Cities and the many partners who have been “the growth” of the program since the start more than 11 years ago.  She remains in awe of the one-plus-one-equals-three (1+1=3) concept and marvels at the fact that this year it equals eleven!   Despite her poor math, she remains, as her children call her, “the Idle-nista!”  She is humbled by all the Ones that made this Utah’s own- TURN YOUR KEY, BE IDLE FREE!

Utah Clean Cities at Jefferson Jr. High 2016

Idle Free Spanish Poster 8.5 x 11 DownloadIdle Free English Poster Download 8.5 x 11

Idle Free Cards Blue Download




Reminder: Turn the Key, Be Idle Free!

The sights and smells of back-to-school are here: new pencils and paper, first-day clothes, and the hint of fall in the air. It’s an exciting time for many kids, parents, and teachers as we enter another year and get back into the school day routine.

And with the return of that familiar routine, we’d like to encourage you to be Idle Free. Whether dropping off the kids or running errands around town, one thing we can all do to improve air quality is to “Turn the Key and Be Idle Free.”

It’s easy. If you’re stopped for more than ten seconds, turn the engine off. Read more

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Idling Is Getting Us Nowhere Fast!

Idling is gets us nowhere fast!

Ten years ago, my niece came to my mountain home and announced her class was campaigning to stop the dirty old school buses from idling at her Morningside school.  She talked expertly about carbon footprints, asthma, and PM 2.5.  I was getting my first education on the dire effects of idling from a nine year old activist.  Over the last year, I would say I have become an Idle.   My college kids call me the Idle Free Fairy, passing out Idle Free stickers and knocking on idling car windows and asking, reminding, and sometimes retreating from annoyed drivers.

There is almost no reason to idle for while parking, there are exceptions, but there are even better solutions.  Each year American’s burn over 6 million gallons of gas going nowhere—they are simply idling.  Estimates in Utah say that ¼ of our emissions are a result of idling. If you can see something coming out of the tail pipe, its particulate matter and it’s dangerous, especially to developing lungs and vulnerable populations.PM2.5, the tiny particles you can’t often see, lodges in the lungs and crosses the blood barrier.

Read more