Air quality officials urge parents to be watchful as school year begins

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For many families, it's the start of a busy school year with drop offs, pick ups, and everything in between. The increase in traffic has the Valley Air District encouraging people to change their habits, especially while waiting outside campus. (KFSN)

Fresno Unified gets back to school on Monday and that means thousands of drivers will be on the road to drop off and pick up their kids.

It's the time of year when emissions go up, which is why the Valley Air District is sending out a message.

For many families, it's the start of a busy school year with drop offs, pick ups and everything in between.

The increase in traffic has the Valley Air District encouraging people to change their habits, especially while waiting outside of campus.

"We're asking those parents to turn the key, turn that car off, be idle free, and avoid producing unnecessary emissions that those students will not only inhale, but will collectively make ozone increase in the valley," Heather Heinks with the district said.

Not only will heat play a factor, but, this year, wildfires in both Monterey and Fresno Counties are in the mix.

"It's definitely a double whammy," Heinks said. "We've got high ozone and increasing particulate matter."

That's why she says it's important for people to do what they can, when possible.

"There are a lot of instances where we can just make that extra decision as parents and turn off our vehicles or come at a different time or even share a ride," Heinks said.

But in an exclusive Action News poll conducted by Survey USA. We found that 55 percent of parents in the greater Fresno area say their kids will be driven to school without a carpool, 35 percent will carpool, take a bus, walk or ride a bike.

If it's a reasonable option, some say they're all for it.

"If that helps the air quality, carpooling is always a good idea," parent Mick Henderson said. "Especially saving gas."

But waiting in a hot car with the AC off? Not so much.

"Especially during those days where it's 105 or more," Henderson said. "I've gotta have the AC blasting, but, I guess, it kind of depends on the heat."

And when convenience and family needs are at the top of the priority list, some say these ideas can fall by the wayside.

"As long as the air keeps circulating, we have rain, we have a new day," Dalia Mendez of Fresno said. "I don't think there's anything to worry about."
Related Topics:
healthair qualityfresno unified school districtfresnohealthFresno
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