Letter to the Editor: Do your part to reduce auto pollution

Thanks for your recent editorial spotlighting the issue of auto pollution. Anyone who’s paying attention can see the need cleaner vehicles, solar power, etc. New Jersey consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of states in air pollution ranking.

However, most folks don’t know that New Jersey has had a 3 minute limit on idling since 1972 for diesel powered trucks, and for all vehicles since 2009. The only public notice is on the signs on Wawa exteriors around the state. The NJDEP has a “Diesel Risk Reduction Task Force” formed to educate operators of truck and bus fleets but has sadly failed to educate the rest of us. Only their website offers any guidance.

As a Registered Respiratory Therapist, I’d treated hundreds of patients with asthma, emphysema and heart disease worsened by the poor air quality around New Jersey. There are untold thousands of under-treated patients who suffer the effects of air pollution, and they burden the health care system, costing us millions in preventable ambulance calls, ER visits, hospitalizations and lost productivity.

Reducing air pollution is as simple as turning the engine off! Don’t sit in the drive-through at the bank, fast foods, etc. Don’t warm your car up when it’s cold; it only adds to the greenhouse gas load and is actually bad for your engine.

What else can you do? First, educate yourself at www.stopthesoot.org. Next, reach out to your local mayor and council, county freeholders, police department and board of education to ask for their “buy-in.” Stay informed, since we’re handing this planet off to our kids and grandkids. The Delaware Valley is home to more than 4 million people and sees another million vehicles each day at the seaport and on the Turnpike, Rts. 295, 70, 73 and 38. Think of the excess pollution your family is inhaling 24/7/365 and think of what we’re adding to global warming.

Michael Richter, RRT