The Pollution on the School Bus goes Down, Down, Down!

Do you like clean air?

Do you like clean air for KIDS?

Seems like the rest of the state does, too.  According to TCEQ, a program to retrofit school buses around the state has been able to retrofit 2300 buses statewide. Even more amazing was the demand for the program exceeding its allotment by 40%, meaning for every 3 school buses we wanted to fix, we could only fix 2.   However, that means that for tens of thousands of kids, they are now riding in much better buses, and those school districts who gut put on the waiting list just have to wait for more money from the Legislature to get their buses clean, too.


A demonstration of how much pollution is prevented on a school bus

Local ISDs, schools, parents, and kids love this program because of how much it reduces toxic air pollution from our buses, and does so without taking money out of the classroom.  Local businesses and residents should love it because it is making their communities cleaner.  This is a win for air quality, a win for school districts, and most importantly, a win for children’s health.

More video, a press release, and gory details after the break:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwT5cqkgizU]

KHOU story on the success of the bus retrofits

The particulate matter that is being controlled on these buses in incredibly toxic, leading to asthma, allergies, and respiratory illness in children who should otherwise be playing on the playground.  PM has even been linked to cancer.  Especially bad is that the ride to and from school is ironically making kids sick, keeping them away from the school they’re trying to attend.


More analysis on bus retrofits from air quality experts

Now we just need to bump it up enough to be able to fix as many buses as possible.  This is a serious no-brainer for the Legislature when it convenes next month.   But where will the money come from?  Well, they found the money for a lavish new lounge for state legislators… I think they can find some more money for school buses.

Look- a Press release!

Dec. 19, 2008

Contact: Rachel McClure (512) 579-6294
Carol Geiger (512) 477-1155

Continued Support of Successful School Bus Program Is Critical to Health of Children, Drivers

Statement of Rachel McClure, Environmental Projects Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Because of an innovative program run by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), more than 80 independent school districts and charter schools will receive grants this year to retrofit more than 2,300 school buses with pollution reduction technology.

In fact, the TCEQ announced this week that it had received far more applications that it could fill. While $9.3 million was made available for the retrofit program, the requests during the second grant round, which ended this month, totaled more than $13 million. This builds on the success of the first grant round earlier this year, which provided 51 school districts with funds to retrofit 2,600 buses.

Public Citizen applauds the success of this initiative and urges the Legislature to continue supporting this important program. This is a win for air quality, a win for school districts and most importantly, a win for the health of our children and bus drivers.

Every day, children and school bus drivers are exposed to nearly 40 toxic substances from bus exhaust fumes, which make their way into the bus cabin and the air around the bus. Levels of particulate matter in and around school buses can be five to 10 times higher than normal outside levels. School buses can become a “hot spot” of pollution exposure for school children because they breathe more air per pound of body weight, and their lungs are still developing. These pollutants contribute to a laundry list of adverse health effects.

Because the agency allocated all funds, a waiting list was created for the additional 41 schools that applied for grant money. No district that wants to participate should be left out. It is imperative that Texas lawmakers make the health and safety of our children a top priority by continuing the funding and expansion of this project.

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., with an office in Austin, Texas. For more information, go to www.citizen.org.