Protect Children From Diesel Fumes
In May 2002, Minnesota adopted legislation to protect the health and safety of children from harmful diesel bus emissions. This law calls for schools to reduce the unnecessary idling of school buses in front of schools, and reroute bus parking zones away from air-intake vents (or if necessary, relocate the air-intake vents).
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency worked with the Sierra Club and other health-based organizations to provide resources to help your school protect students from diesel emissions. We have sample letters to help explain the new law, posters and camera-ready signs for Clean Air Zones. We also offer information on available funds to help your school reduce students' exposure to diesel emissions.
Toxic chemicals in diesel emissions increase the risk of asthma, lung and heart disease, and are responsible for as many as 125,000 cancers nationwide. Yale University's Dr. John Wargo recently found that students on school buses are exposed to 5 to 15 times the levels of particulate pollution than at nearby monitoring sites. Bus idling and bus queuing (back-to-front line-up of buses) increases the concentrations of harmful particulate pollution inside school buses. It is with this knowledge that the state of Minnesota took action in the interest of students and communities.
Take action: Simple steps for schools
Schools can begin with these simple steps to minimize children's exposure to harmful diesel emissions. By adopting a no-idling policy and redesigning bus parking zones, schools can protect the health of students.
Implement a no-idling policy. Post "no idling" signs and alert bus drivers, parents and administrators that engines should be turned off when a bus (or any vehicle) is waiting, or parked. Buses generally do not need to idle, except in cold weather.
Redesign bus parking zones. Move bus parking area away from school air intake vents and park buses at a diagonal to avoid front-to-back passing of emissions to help reduce students' exposure to emissions.
Beyond the mandate of the new law, your school can reduce students' exposure to diesel emissions by good maintenance of your current bus fleet and investment in cleaner fuels and technologies, such as exhaust pipe retrofits for current buses, use of biodiesel, and the purchase of newer, cleaner buses, over the long term.
Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
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