School Bus Blues: How to Make Them Green. Twenty four million children ride on school buses for an average of an hour and a half every school day. It’s convenient and it’s safe, but old diesel buses spew a lot of toxic air pollution. It’s not just bad for the air quality around the bus, it leaks inside the bus where developing lungs are exposed to it the entire ride.
Understanding the health threats old diesel buses pose to kids and the population at large, the US Environmental Protection Agency started the Clean School Bus USA program several years ago. The main goals of the program are to:
- Eliminate unnecessary school bus idling
- Upgrade (or retrofit) buses with better emission controls or cleaner fuels
- Replacing the oldest buses with newer, less-polluting buses
Clean School Bus USA has a variety of resources on their website to help schools make healthy changes and they have awarded millions of dollars to school districts across the country to help make these changes.
Beyond the EPA program, many states are making their own strides towards cleaner school buses:
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and PTA are working together to get money to school districts that need help retrofitting old busses. The program is funded in part by money from polluters. When those industries are fined, they can choose to send some of that money to the Clean School Bus Program. The PTA then finds school districts in the same geographic area as that industry to fund bus cleanup.
The Salt River Project power plant in Arizona will be spending at least $1.25 million retrofitting Phoenix-area public school-bus diesel engines as part of a penalty for illegally emitting pollution.
California’s largest school bus operator has agreed to renovate more than 2,000 buses in California to run cleaner, settling a lawsuit that accused it of exposing children to diesel exhaust in leaky passenger cabins.
There are also efforts under way in Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Ohio. Nearly every state across the nation has seen school districts start investing in cleaner school buses over the past few years.
Here are two simple restrictions that administrators can put in place in order to help reduce pollution on your school’s grounds.
- Establish an idle reduction program for buses.
- Ask that parents turn off their vehicles while waiting to pick up their child.
Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World