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Check It Out: Free Emissions Testing and Gas Cap Replacements

06/03/10 by Staff Writer 

The game between the Intimidators and the Augusta GreenJackets won’t be the only feature Friday, June 25, at Intimidator Stadium in Kannapolis. 

The Center for the Environment at Catawba College will partner with Mecklenburg Air Quality Program, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC) and the Intimidator Stadium to test gas caps for leaks and check tire pressure from 4-to-7 p.m. Fleet owners as well as individuals may bring their vehicles by for the emissions and tire pressure checks.

Gas caps that fail the test will be replaced free of charge. RCCC’s Automotive Department will also check emissions systems on all vehicles made after 1996.  In addition, the first 200 people will receive free tire gauges.

Children can play on the Intimidator playground while their parents get their cars checked, and food will be available for purchase in the stadium.

Alan Giles, senior air quality specialist with the Mecklenburg Air Quality Program, notes that 30 gallons of gasoline and about 200 pounds of evaporative emissions can be released every year from a leaking gas cap. This contributes to air pollution and wastes fuel.

Wade Vernon, head of RCCC’s automotive group, says leaks can go undetected. “A ‘check engine’ light will come on only if a failure of an emission system takes place twice consecutively,” he says. “Gas caps could leak, and people wouldn’t know it. Leaks that are smaller than .020” could possibly never be detected by the vehicles on-board computer.”

This “Check It Out” event is a service of the Center for the Environment’s Campaign for Clean Air, which is designed to educate citizens in our community and region and empower them to take action to address the air quality issues the region faces. 

Shelia Armstrong, the Center’s air quality outreach coordinator, points out that the American Lung Association recently listed Rowan County as the 17th worst county in the nation for ground-level ozone. The Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury metropolitan area, which includes Cabarrus County, was ranked 10th in the nation for the most ozone-polluted cities.

Leaking gas caps contribute to the region’s air pollution. Children and the elderly – more than 115,000 in Rowan and Cabarrus – as well as people with lung disease and those who work or exercise outdoors are particularly susceptible.

In North Carolina each year, air pollution leads to an estimated 3,000 premature deaths; 6,000 hospital admissions for respiratory disease and another 2,000 for cardiovascular disease; and 1,500 new cases of asthma and 2,500 cases of chronic bronchitis in adults. Asthma, lung cancer, Hodgkin’s disease and heart attacks have all been scientifically linked to traffic-related air pollution.

 “These tests will help individuals and fleet owners ensure that their vehicles pass the emissions tests,” Armstrong says. “It is one more step in making our air healthy to breathe.”

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