Sunday, September 7, 2008

Children and Diesel Exhaust Exposure

Have you considered the risk to your child's health when exposed to diesel exhaust? Clean School Bus USA is a program designed to reduce exposure received by children to exhaust from diesel-fueled buses, and the amount of air pollution created by these vehicles buses. Consider this:

  • 24 million American children ride school buses daily
  • Students spend, on average, about an hour and-a- half each day in a school bus
  • School buses drive more than 4 billion miles each year

The safest transportation method for children to get to and from school are school buses. But pollution emitted from older diesel vehicles has serious health risks for everyone, especially children. Children have smaller bodies and absorb greater amounts of the chemical as compared to adults. Reducing pollution from public school buses should be a priority, and if a concerted effort is made by all we can assure that school buses are also a clean way for children to travel to and from school. By aligning partners from from education, business, public-health, and transportation organizations, Clean School Bus USA is working toward the following goals:

Diesel exhaust can exacerbate health conditions such as asthma, allergies, and respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and sinusitus.
What can you do to help?
  • Limit the amount of time children are spent on buses and waiting for them outside of idling vehicles
  • If your child must ride a bus, encourage he or she to sit toward the front of the bus, if possible. Less exposure to carcinogens occurs toward the front of the bus.
  • Talk to bus driver and administrative staff at your school to encourage that vehicles are turned off while waiting for children to load.
  • Request that your school district to replace diesel buses with alternative-fuel buses
  • Write to your congressman or woman about these issues and get involved locally
  • Ride your bike to school or walk with your child to save gas and cut down on air pollution
What are some good alternatives to diesel-powered buses? Vehicles using compressed natural gas and propane are much cleaner and just as reliable, and these are used pervasively for city transportation. More school districts everywhere are switching to these types of vehicles. As research on alternative fuels and technologies increases, additional alternatives -- including battery or fuel-cell-powered buses and vehicles using a mixture of batteries and fuel -- may be coming soon.

For more information, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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