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U.S. EPA to present Clovis Unified School District Indoor Air Quality National Excellence Award

Release Date: 11/13/2003
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, US EPA, 415-760-5421

District will also be awarded over $280,000 to clean up diesel school buses

SAN FRANCISCO - Wayne Nastri, Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented the Clovis Unified School District with a National Excellence Award for improving indoor air quality using the EPA's voluntary "Tools for Schools" program.

Nastri will also present the school with a $286,700 Clean School Bus grant award, which the district will use to retrofit entire diesel school bus fleet with emissions control devices as well as switching over to a low-emission alternative diesel fuel. The presentation will be made in front of a group of junior and senior students from the Center for Advanced Research and Technology who are looking at indoor air quality as an upcoming project.

"Clovis Unified is taking dramatic steps improving both indoor and outdoor air quality for its students,"said Nastri. " We applaud the districtl for its tools for schools efforts and also provide funding for diesel retrofitting its school buses. The school's collective efforts benefit air quality for all Clovis residents as well as students."

"Here in Clovis, our motto is 'educating students in mind, body and spirit.' That means inside and outside the classroom," said District Superintendent Dr. Terry Bradley. "Our efforts to address indoor air quality concerns, as well as reduce exhaust emissions in our diesel school bus fleet, are designed to give students better access to education. We can have the best teachers in the nation, but if students are missing school due to asmthma or allergy problems, how wonderful our teachers are won't matter."

Mold, mildew, dust, animal dander, radon, secondhand smoke, asbestos, and formaldehyde can affect indoor air quality and trigger various allergies and asthma. Asthma alone accounts for 14 million missed school days each year. The rate of asthma in young children has risen by 160 percent in the last 15 years, and today one out of every 13 school age children has asthma.

The EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools kit is a voluntary program teachers, administrators and students can use to evaluate and indoor air quality. The program is a comprehensive resource that can help schools maintain a healthy environment in buildings, by identifying, correcting, and preventing indoor air quality problems. Nearly 56 million people in the United States spend their day in our nation's elementary and secondary schools. According to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics in 1999, 43 percent of American schools--about 33,800--reported at least one unsatisfactory environmental condition.

To support the EPA's efforts to reduce pollution from school buses, Congress included $5 million in the EPA's budget for a cost-shared grant program designed to assist school districts in upgrading their bus fleets. This grant competition closed on August 1, 2003. The EPA received over 120 applications requesting nearly $60 million in funds. Seventeen demonstration projects were selected for funding. The projects will demonstrate a variety of approaches to reducing pollution from school buses. These demonstrations will involve about 4000 buses and remove over 200,000 pounds of diesel particulate matter from the air over the next 10 years.

The Clovis Unified School District is in California's San Joaquin Valley, which has some of the nation's worst air pollution, with ozone and particulate levels often exceeding federal health standards. To reduce emissions from school buses, the district will use the EPA funds to retrofit 53 buses with diesel oxidation catalysts and test their performance on emulsified diesel fuel. In addition, the district will retrofit nine buses with particulate filters and fuel them with low-emission alternative diesel fuel. These actions will reduce particulate emissions by an estimated 6.88 tons.

The Clovis Unified School District operates a bus fleet with 54 routes serving 33,418 children. The fleet is fully committed throughout the school year and operates at about 50% capacity during the summer.