School buses are one of the worst vehicles for emissions due to their stop and go routine and one school district in Utah is trying to address the issue.
“[In Utah,] 173,000 students are bused a total of 31.9 million miles. So I think that’s an indication of how much time kids spend on school buses,” said Bob Gliniecki, product manager at Heraeus Sensor Technology USA. He says emissions from school buses are a hazard for children and are a major pollutant for air quality.
“The issue with school buses is that most of the school buses in this country have diesel engines," he said. "Emissions are especially an issue for children, especially young children. Their lungs are not fully formed and they breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight. There is something called self-pollution where you can get leakage from the exhaust into the cabin of the bus.”
Gliniecki said self pollution can expose children to all sorts of fumes.
“And so they can expose to things such as nitrous oxides and particulate matter that are harmful," he said. "It can aggravate asthma, allergies and bronchitis and things like that. And the main thing with that is to make sure the bus is maintained."
Wayne Reese is the administrator of transportation for the Cache County School District and says the district is trying to do its part to reduce emissions and keep school children safe.
“We’ve received three different grants," he said. "One is a Clean School Bus grant. One is an Airshed grant and one is a part of the VW settlement funds that was awarded to the state of Utah.”
Between the three grants, the school district has received $3.2 million in grant money.
Currently, about 40 percent of the district's buses are older than 2007 – the cutoff year considered for buses to be old due to outdated emissions regulations on the models. However, all of the older buses in the Cache Valley district have been retrofitted to help lower emissions. And in addition to the retrofitted buses, the school district has about a dozen propane buses.
“Propane doesn’t have the particulates that diesel does," Reese said. "And so it’s considered an alternative fuel. We’re conscious of valley air in Cache Valley and we want to do everything we can to help it be clean for everyone – including our school children."