Start of school in Fresno and Clovis Unified prompts air alert

FRESNO, Calif.

"Air alerts happen when we get dangerously close to exceeding Ozone levels in the San Joaquin Valley."

Heaither Heinks of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District says idling cars are to blame for the surge of air pollution.

"The Ozone increase in August and September specifically related to back to school traffic," Heinks said. "Parents dropping off their children, mostly picking up their children idle for anywhere from ten to 20 minutes and that creates excessive emissions that don't need to be produced."

Signs will be posted at participating schools, urging no idling. The Air Pollution Control District is also urging parents to form car pools and children to form walking groups, all to reduce automobile traffic, and pollution.

The air district claims ozone pollution is down dramatically, but still above federal standards. That is why the Federal government has tacked a $12 fee onto everyone in eight county regions car registration bill. The penalty is costing the Valley $29 million a year. But if Ozone levels can decline enough in the next few months to meet Federal standards Heinks says that fee will go away.

"We are almost there to reaching that one hour standard, we need to get through this Ozone season and we have a chance at eliminating that Federal penalty."

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