Schools Fighting Effects of Bus Fumes

2 09 2008

 

By Tom Corwin| Augusta Chronicle

Frances Canterbury fans herself as she sits in the driver’s seat of her school bus outside Spirit Creek Middle School, waiting for the kids to pile in. The muggy weather is just one of the things the veteran bus driver has to deal with.

“I get a lot of fumes,” she said, and she suffers from chronic bronchitis. “It seems to get worse in the fall and winter.”

Medical College of Georgia researchers are trying to quantify just how much impact on air quality those buses are having at certain Richmond County schools.

Exhaust from school buses is the target of a national campaign to eliminate idling at schools while they wait to pick up students. The National Clean Diesel Campaign of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes grants to districts to retrofit school buses with emission controls or to burn cleaner fuel.

There are roughly 390,000 diesel buses in use nationwide, and a third of them were built before 1990, Jim Blubaugh, the director of the clean diesel program, said. A 2007 survey found nearly 2,000 that were circa 1977 or older, he said.

“We’ve made great progress in getting a lot of those off the road,” he said. “But it kind of just illustrates the extent of the age of this particular fleet and quite frankly the extent of the problem we’re tackling.”

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