Linn County Air Quality Division
Skip Navigation Links

Idle Free Linn

August 14, 2013

Mt. Vernon Community School District adopts an idle free campus policy.  Check out the news story on Idle Free Linn - Keeping Kids Healthy with New Idle-Free Policy.  Encourage your school district to take steps to reduce vehicle idling.

Some Linn County Schools Go Idle Free

LINN COUNTY, IA - As school starts, parents and visitors to the Mt. Vernon Community School District (MVCSD) may notice something a little different. Mt. Vernon’s school board took action this summer to improve student health by passing a vehicle idle reduction policy for MVCSD campuses. Vehicle idling refers to when a car or bus is parked with the engine running.

A little over a year ago, MVCSD transportation staff attended a presentation hosted by Linn County Public Health promoting the Idle Free Linn initiative. At this presentation, transportation staff learned that motor vehicle exhaust is a significant source of air pollution in Linn County, and idling vehicles add unnecessary air toxics and fine particles to the air. These pollutants negatively impact human health and the environment. Children are also more susceptible to the negative health effects of air pollution because they take approximately twice as many breaths per minute as an adult and are closer to exhaust pipes where pollutants are more concentrated.1

This information motivated transportation staff to work with Linn County Public Health to conduct idling assessments at the MVCSD elementary and middle schools. The assessment results were troubling. Data from the assessment was used to estimate that Mt. Vernon parents idle for over 1,000 hours per school year which adds approximately half a ton of pollution to the air. After reviewing this information, the MVCSD school board and superintendent decided to adopt an idle free policy.  The policy will reduce school fleet idling and provides guidelines for parents and visitors to limit idling while parked at Mt. Vernon schools. Superintendent Gary O’Malley encourages other schools to adopt an idle reduction policy, and says “working with Linn County was a great partnership. Together we can make sure that the whole community benefits.”

Linn-Mar Community School District (Linn-Mar) has also been a leader in vehicle idling reduction. In 2008, Linn-Mar adopted an idle reduction policy for the school vehicle fleet and has committed to educating parents on the importance of reducing vehicle idling while on district property. Although protecting student health was a priority for Linn Mar when the idle free policy was adopted, cost savings was another big incentive. Now, Linn-Mar is saving money by not idling.. Superintendent Katie Mulholland says, "Our families, teachers, staff, bus drivers and delivery drivers are all asked to turn off their vehicles if they are waiting more than 10 seconds. It's really such a small thing to do, but participation from our entire community makes a big difference. At Linn-Mar, we're proud to do our part for cleaner air for all to breathe and to protect the health of our Linn-Mar students."

Other Linn County schools have joined the Idle Free Linn initiative and are educating parents about the negative health impacts vehicle idling has on children and staff. St. Matthew’s Elementary School in Cedar Rapids and Center Point-Urbana Community School District are encouraging parents and visitors to turn off vehicles when parked on school grounds by posting “Idle Free Zone” signs. In conjunction with this, the St. Matthew’s has distributed information to parents encouraging them to be idle free. 

Idle Free Linn is an initiative led by Linn County Public Health dedicated to reducing vehicle idling. Idle Free Linn encourages Linn County residents, schools, businesses, and municipalities to follow the 10 Second Rule: Turn off your engine if you will be waiting for more than ten seconds.  The simple act of turning a vehicle off, improves air quality, reduces exposure to harmful pollutants, and saves money on wasted fuel and vehicle wear and tear. 

To learn more about idle reduction in schools, businesses, municipalities, and personal vehicles, visit or contact Linn County Public Health at (319)-892-6000.

1 KAIRE, Kentuckiana Air Education website