Clean air is one of the earth’s most precious natural resources, especially for those with lung conditions and breathing difficulties. Sufferers of asthma, emphysema and bronchitis are only a few of the population who are acutely aware of poor air quality, and a big player in air pollution are idling vehicles. Oftentimes, idling cars are in the worst possible places, such as the waiting zones of schools, day-cares and nursing homes.
Civil engineering sophomore Cheyon Sheen plans to change that for residents of her hometown in Twin Falls with the support of a $1,000 Hometown Challenge Scholarship. Launched this year, the summer scholarship provides students with the financial support to develop and implement a project that will have a significant impact on their local communities.
“Vehicle idling is when one unnecessarily leaves their engine on. In order to combat negative health and environmental impacts from idling, my project is to inform the people of Twin Falls to stop idling and also enroll schools/daycares into the Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Air Zone Program,” says Sheen, who is also minoring in environmental studies.
The Clean Air Zones program involves creating non-idling zones in parking lots, placing ‘no idling’ signs, and offers myriad guidance and educational resources on how to avoid creating air pollution.
To battle this problem in Twin Falls, Sheen will be reaching out to the 25 active daycares, and hopes to help at least ten enroll in the Clean Air Zone Program and create zones at each campus. Following enrollment, Sheen intends to keep in touch with these daycares and learn from their processes and experiences.
“I believe that clean air is vital for sustainable living. Although the people of Twin Falls are fortunate to wake up every morning with a breath of fresh air, that doesn’t mean we don’t contribute to air pollution. If we continue to leave our engines on, then we will be contributing to devastating consequences in the near future,” said Sheen.
This project will not only help create cleaner air in Twin Falls, but is also an important step in battling the effects of climate change. Sheen is passionate about environmental sustainability, and hopes that her work in her hometown will create a “domino effect of people realizing more of the importance of clean air, leading to more people shutting off their engines, and ultimately more people and businesses committing to anti-idling zones and other initiatives to combat air pollution.”
“In addition to it being a health hazard, idling emits air pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, that are directly related to climate change.”
Sheen is a presidential scholarship awardee, and the Government Relations Officer for the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU), as well as a member of the Korean Club and Civil Engineering Club.