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EPA Grant Helps Reduce Diesel Exhaust Pollution from School Buses at Richmond and Hopewell School Districts

Release Date: 04/24/2006
Contact Information: Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a Clean School Bus Grant of $274,000 to the Richmond and Hopewell School Districts in Virginia.

The $274,000 grant award is among the $7.5 million Clean School Bus USA grants that have been awarded to school districts across the country in 2006. The grants will help fund the cleanup of more than 500 million tons of diesel exhaust from 4,000 school buses nationwide.

“This is good news for the students in the Richmond and Hopewell School Districts,” said EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh. “Cleaner buses and cleaner air mean fewer respiratory ailments, and a brighter, healthier future for all our kids.”

Richmond School District will retrofit 170 of its 234 school buses with a diesel oxidation catalyst, a device that captures diesel particles from the engine before they are emitted into the outside air. Hopewell School District plans to retrofit 27 of its 31 buses with diesel oxidation catalysts. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will provide technical support to the schools, as well as a five percent match of the total grant award.

“We feel very fortunate to have been selected for the grant award because it took a team effort from Hopewell County Public Schools, Virginia Regional Environment Management System, Global Environment & Technology Foundation, Virginia Department of Environment Quality and Richmond Public Schools. The EPA funds will be used by the Richmond School District to clean the exhaust emissions in one of the oldest bus fleets in the metro Richmond area,” said Vincent Ashley, assistant director of pupil transportation for Richmond City Schools.

In April 2003, EPA launched the Clean School Bus USA program to help reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust. The particles in diesel exhaust can penetrate deep into the lungs and pose health risks including aggravated asthma symptoms and other health problems. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of diesel emissions, which can cause respiratory disease and exacerbate long-term conditions such as asthma. They are more susceptible to air pollution because their respiratory systems are still developing and they have a faster breathing rate.

School buses provide a vital service, safely transporting close to 24 million children nationally to and from school every day. Cleaner school buses help not only the children who ride in them but their bus drivers, teachers, families, and communities also benefit from cleaner air and reduced exposure to diesel exhaust.