Thursday, February 12, 2009

Healthy school bus fund

On the February "Start a new post" Kathy Fine wrote:

Cleaner Buses = Healthier Students

As part of the Rachel Carson Legacy Challenge, the Pittsburgh Public Schools will unveil their Healthy School Bus Fund, which will provide over $500,000 for making school buses in the city cleaner, and safer for children. This exciting project will be announced at the Rachel Carson Reception at the Heinz History Center on April 20th at 5:00 pm.

The Healthy School Bus Fund is a joint project of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, The Heinz Endowments, Clean Water Action, Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), and Clean Air Task Force. This partnership was inspired by the multitude of scientific studies that have revealed how dangerous exposure to diesel exhaust really is. While school bus transport remains the safest way for children to travel between school and home, the young passengers are exposed to high levels of diesel pollutants that impede respiratory systems, cause asthma attacks, and have been linked to a wide variety of other adverse health effects including heart attacks, strokes, cancer and premature death. Studies have shown that dangerous particulate matter from diesel emissions accumulates inside the school bus cabin and reaches levels that are 5-10 times more potent than the outdoor air.

These blatant health risks to children are a call to action. Retrofit technology exists that reduces toxic diesel emissions by at least 85%, removing most of the health risks. These emission controls are proven effective through years of testing, and are applied to all 2007 and newer diesel vehicles at the factory. These new, clean vehicles will not entirely replace the Pittsburgh Public Schools existing diesel school bus fleet for another 15 years or more, making it imperative that we protect the many thousands of students who will be exposed in the meantime.

The Healthy School Bus Fund does just that, at no cost to the school district or the school bus companies. The Heinz Endowments has generously provided the initial $500,000 for this fund, and more fiscal support is expected to come from The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Health Department. We will continue our fund raising effort until all eligible buses operating within the Pittsburgh Public Schools are retrofit with clean, healthy technology. There will be a press conference on Tuesday February 17 at 1:30 PM.

Anyone interested in attending should contact:Jennifer EnglandSenior ConsultantPink Coat Communications(412) 5 13 9091 (c)

February 11, 2009 9:35 AM

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

Good news indeed.

The new law in Allegheny County that asks / requires that trucks and buses shut off their engines when sitting (idle) is a great help too. That needs to be reinforced and reminders need to be given to drivers and citizens -- as well as principals, safety guards, etc.

When you line up five or ten school buses and they all run their engines for 10-15 minutes -- the air gets very bad. And, all the kids are let out of school right into that landscape of fumes and toxic air.

But, when the buses drive up and shut down -- things are fine. The difference is HUGE.

Drivers need to turn off the engines. But, it isn't done in the colder weather due to re-starting issues, (I guess).