MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Environmental Protection Agency created an anti-idling policy for school buses in 2004 to reduce harmful emissions. Diesel exhaust not only pollutes the environment, but it's also a health hazard, especially for children.
Shelby County Schools and the Shelby County Health Department have teamed up to retrofit 120 school bus engines that will nearly eliminate toxic diesel fumes. Grant money has made the retrofit program a success already with 70 buses getting the new filters.
Larry Smith with the Air Quality Branch for the Shelby County Health Department said, “Diesel retrofit is taking an existing diesel engine and replacing it with parts that are new and better that improve air quality. We put on diesel particulate filters and a closed crank case filter.”
EPA notes that the filter reduces particulate pollution up to 95% from the exhaust of the bus. The closed crank case filter goes directly on the engine and it help to capture discharge. Without the filter, discharge would drip on the ground underneath the engine and fumes would leak into the cab environment.
“The environment of a school bus is a very intimate environment for children,” said Smith. “They go to school in them and they go home in them. So, when you improve air quality inside and outside the bus you have a double benefit.”
Children are especially susceptible to environmental stressors. Poor air quality can irritate children with asthma and allergies.
Debbie Rike, SCS Transportation Director, told abc24.com, “I think you'll see the difference when you see a bus running with the new equipment and one without it. It's going to be better for everybody. It's better for our children, it's better for our staff and the environment.”
The retrofit project is expected to be completed by June 2012.