Back to School With Reduced School Bus Pollution

School buses are heading back to school with reduced school bus pollution. Those familiar yellow school buses may be the safest way to get our children to school, but they also subject children to harmful pollution. Thankfully, there are many emerging means for communities to clean up what carries our most precious cargo.

| August/September 2007

Find out how communities have reduced school bus pollution and improved school buses, making our children healthier and safer.

How Communities Reduced School Bus Pollution

Buses take about 24 million children to school in the United States each year. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says they’re the safest way to get our children to school — eight times safer than riding in a passenger car. But most school buses also pollute the air with diesel exhaust, and that’s bad news for the kids on the bus.

The problem is that children are exposed to diesel exhaust when they play near idling school buses, or while they ride the bus, as fumes accumulate inside the vehicle. Studies show that over time, exposure to diesel fumes can cause serious health problems — one well-documented concern is that the particulate matter in diesel fumes can contribute to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, plus it’s been linked to increased risk of lung cancer.

But there’s also good news: A growing number of communities from around the country are working to make their school buses less polluting, and it’s surprisingly easy to do. Two organizations involved in these efforts are the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus USA program. Both have online resources to help the public understand the issue. Some of the steps they recommend require buying new equipment; however, in many cases, government funding is available to help cash-strapped school districts replace or retrofit their buses.

“There’s federal funding, and a number of states also have cleanup programs,” says Patricia Monahan, deputy director for the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “California, Washington and Ohio — all of these states have stepped up to provide funding for cleaner school buses.”

One of many success stories is the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which helped the Washington State Clean School Bus Program secure state funding to clean up more than 4,000 buses. “Our legislators have responded and I think others will also,” says Dennis McLerran, director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

11/23/2016 7:47:16 AM

In Canada when a city school bus passes a pedestrian walking on the street.....the smell is nothing short of disgusting.

11/23/2016 7:37:18 AM

In Canada when a city school bus passes a pedestrian walking on the street.....the smell is nothing short of disgusting.

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