Fumes from idle vehicles aren’t only unpleasant smelling, but they can also cause serious harm to your health. Residents and businesses have the right to file a complaint when trucks are emitting smoke regardless of the color. Idling emissions from vehicles running on gasoline and diesel motor can cause asthma and other cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. It’s also illegal for trucks to park in specific areas. If you want to file an emission complaint, here are the steps you can take:

Filing An Emission Complaint


Emissions from trucks and other types of vehicles contain greenhouse gases that are potentially damaging to your health and to the environment. You may encounter trucks that are blowing off smoke from their exhaust pipes—report them to the proper authorities.

These trucks aren’t likely equipped with nitrogen oxide or NOx sensors to help them monitor emissions or have one that’s already failing. According to, trucks with a failing NOx sensor could also produce problems, such as an extreme increase in fuel consumption and engine issues that could eventually lead to failure. These engine concerns are then likely to result in smoke emissions.

There are two ways to report truck emissions:

1. You can call a given hotline dedicated to addressing the concerns of the citizens per state, particularly one that handles concerns related to vehicular issues, such as the Department of Motors.

  1. Complete an online form that you can find on the website of the agency that handles such concerns. You can find them on the official complaint webpage or public notice webpage. For example, if you’re filing for an emissions complaint in the state of Alaska, you can head over to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Air Quality website.

You’ll be asked to give basic information about the truck, including:

  • License plate of the truck
  • Description of the vehicle
  • Color of smoke
  • Time, place, and date when it happened
  • Information of the complainant (name, email address, and more)

In the state of California, the Department of Motor Vehicles has a database where the district can find the truck owner’s registrations. It’ll also contain if the owner has been sent a letter stating that there’s a complaint filed regarding their vehicle. The information in that letter is also confidential and for the owner’s attention only.

Information Given To The Truck Owner


The letter received by the truck or vehicle owner will be informed of the reason why the truck was reported. It’ll contain which code was broken and how much fine the truck owner must pay.

If the reason involved visual proof of emission, such as smoke, they’ll be asked to have the truck repaired or make a vehicle upgrade to eliminate extreme emissions. The amount of fine will depend on the type of vehicle.

In California, after the repair on the truck is accomplished, they’ll need to complete the Smoking Vehicle Compliance form. It’ll be sent to District.

The Importance Of Filing Emission Complaints


When the Clean Air Act or CAA was passed in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed light duty vehicles, such as specific truck models that emit nitrogen oxide, under regulation. Twenty years after its inception, the CAA changed its emission standards and four new smog pollutants have been added to the roster. The following are:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Non-methane organic gases
  • Formaldehyde
  • Particulate matter

Gases released by the tailpipes of vehicles, such as trucks, are called greenhouse gases. They form when fuel is used up for energy and come out of the vehicle after the process of combustion. When greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, they stay there for a hundred years and even more.

Greenhouse gases contribute to the reason why the atmosphere is getting warmer. Global warming has been raising sea levels, affecting climate and influencing health and ecosystems. Filing a complaint is one of the ways you as a citizen can do to help government agencies monitor emissions.

Monitoring Of Emissions


The EPA has regulatory requirements regarding air quality. Monitoring includes the following:

  • Monitoring an unmoving emission source
  • Tracking the quality of ambient air

The collection and utilization of measurement data are used for monitoring stationary air emissions. These include processes, manufacturing plants, facilities, and many others. The ones mentioned are used to evaluate the pollutant emission levels to verify work practices or analyze how the emission control device works.

EPA also tracks atmosphere air quality by analyzing and measuring the collected samples of ambient air for the evaluation of air pollutant status in the atmosphere. It’s compared to historical information and clean air standards.

The Importance Of Monitoring


Monitoring ambient air helps in the assessment of the atmosphere while providing information to scientists, regulators, industries, and more. Tracking the quality of atmosphere or ambient air assists in identifying if an area or geographical region is following the Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). It also helps determine pollutants and the criteria that make them dangerous.

Aside from identifying which areas aren’t meeting these standards, authorities must also determine the tendencies of air quality and how certain activities can influence pollution. Stationary sources of emissions, such as vehicles, are impacting the quality of ambient air of an area, as well as the levels of pollutants.

Monitoring stationary sources of emission helps gather information from those sources that fall under regulation for compliance demonstration. There are specific requirements stated in the regulations set by the state or federal rules in a permit to operate. Creators of devices for air pollution control benefit from the information to improve process performance to apply corrective measures when necessary. Monitoring methods are related to certain regulations set for the Clean Act Air (CAA), and those responsible for maintaining unmoving sources must conduct them

In Conclusion

When you see a truck emitting smoke from tailpipes, you have the right to report it by gathering all the necessary information, such as the plate number of the truck and the location you saw it. If more people did this, it’d help the authorities control emissions that are hazardous to the environment and to human health. In addition to that, complaints remind truck owners to repair their vehicles since failing to do so can result in fines and other unpleasant scenarios. It’s also important to note that filing valid complaints to the right authorities is also a mark of a responsible citizen.