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EPA Gives $180,000 to Reduce Pollution from 115 Vineland, N.J. School Buses

Release Date: 06/28/2004
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(#04101) New York, N.Y. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has awarded a $180,000 grant to the City of Vineland Board of Education in Cumberland County, New Jersey to install pollution reducing equipment on 94 school buses and to institute a no-idling program. The grant, part of EPA's Clean School Bus USA program, will help improve the air for the 12,500 students served by the district.

"Diesel engines like those in most school buses release contaminants that contribute to air pollution and can cause respiratory problems," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "School buses are the way most kids get to school. With this grant to the Vineland Board of Education, EPA is helping to make buses in New Jersey better for children's lungs, and for the environment, than ever before."

Through the installation of diesel oxidation catalysts - which are similar to the catalytic converters now found in all gasoline-powered cars – tailpipe emissions from 94 of Vineland's 115 buses will be reduced: fine particles by at least 20 percent; hydrocarbons by at least 50 percent and carbon monoxide by at least 30 percent. The Vineland schools will also use the EPA funds to install radio transmitters and receivers in 20 buses of its 115 bus fleet. The system will monitor, in almost real time, how much time the school bus spends idling, the speed of the vehicle, and mileage and route traveled. The software will also be programmed to warn supervisors when drivers idle unnecessarily. By reducing idling time and retrofitting most of its fleet, EPA estimates that every year, 4,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, 2,400 pounds of carbon monoxide, 600 pounds of hydrocarbons and 240 pounds of fine particles will be removed from New Jersey's air.

Most school buses and trucks are powered by large diesel engines that lack the sophisticated pollution controls now required on automobiles. While providing excellent fuel economy, the regular diesel fuel used by a vast majority of school buses generates a significant amount of fine particles, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, which are released into the environment. Fine particles can lodge deep into the lungs, can cause asthma attacks and over time, permanent damage to the lungs. Hydrocarbons are a component of ground-level ozone, or smog, the choking brown haze that settles over many parts of the state on the hottest summer days.

To address emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles like school buses and trucks, EPA has adopted new regulations that require all new diesel vehicles built in 2004 and later to be equipped with pollution controls. By 2007, even more sophisticated pollution controls will be required, and diesel engines will be 95% cleaner than those of most buses on the road today. EPA is encouraging owners of trucks and bus fleets to use cleaner diesel fuel and to retrofit their pre-2004 vehicles with pollution controls because these trucks and buses may remain on the road for a decade or more.

EPA's Clean School Bus USA program works to limit exposure to diesel fumes by the 24 million children who ride school buses, and reduce the amount of air pollution these buses create. By developing partnerships with schools, state and local governments, trade groups and private companies, a significant number of school bus retrofit projects have already taken place nationwide.

The grant to Vineland is one of 20 awarded by EPA for similar projects around the country. The grants total $5 million nationwide.