Air pollution from diesel vehicles has health implications for everyone, but children are more susceptible to this pollution because their respiratory systems are not fully developed. Diesel exhaust typically contains particulate matter (PM), hydrocarbons (HC), and carbon monoxide (CO). Exposure to fine particles in school bus exhaust can result in increased frequency of childhood diseases, such as asthma.
At schoolyards, idling school buses release emissions directly into the breathing zone of children. Children are exposed to the emissions at the most concentrated levels as they line up to board an idling bus. Limiting the amount of idling time not only reduces exposure of school students to the harmful pollutants in diesel exhaust, but it also improves air quality.
EPA has a program for addressing emissions from school buses called Clean School Bus. Suggested options for controlling emissions from school buses include implementing anti-idling programs and installing idle reduction technology [link to ARD-47] on buses. Retrofitting buses with pollution control devices can produce significant results. For example, installation of diesel oxidation catalysts can reduce emissions of particulate matter (PM) by 20 percent and emissions of hydrocarbons (HC) by 50 percent. Installation of diesel particulate matter filters can reduce emissions of PM, HC, and CO by 60 to 90 percent.
DES, in association with the New Hampshire School Transportation Association (NHSTA) has a voluntary initiative to protect school children and bus drivers from excessive exposure to exhaust emissions from school buses. As part of the initiative, fleet managers and school bus drivers throughout New Hampshire adopt policies and practices to reduce school bus engine idling time whenever possible.
More recently, New Hampshire passed a bill (HB1265) that became effective in January 2011 and directs school boards to “…address methods of minimizing or eliminating emissions from buses…taking into account the state anti-idling and clean air zone policies established by the department of environmental services.” ; Section 200:48 Air Quality in Schools.
DES and NHSTA have developed numerous materials to assist schools and transit providers in developing these policies. These include:
Drivers can reduce the potential impact on their health and that of their passengers by limiting engine idling whenever possible. Reducing idling also saves fuel, reduces engine wear and tear, and saves school bus companies and school districts thousands of dollars each year.
For more information, contact the DES Air Resources Division at 603-271-6453.
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