The Wheels On the Bus May Go Round, But What Does the Exhaust Do?

When I think of cliché images from grade school, I think of two things—apples and big, yellow school buses. Apples aside, school buses are a typical part of the grade school experience. Unfortunately, school buses are also some of the oldest and most polluting vehicles on the roads today.

School buses emit toxic soot, which can lead to asthma, bronchitis, headaches—and over time—cancer, heart disease and premature death for those exposed to diesel pollution. Children are among those most at risk of the hazards of diesel exhaust. While thousands of kids ride school buses every day in the state of Texas, nearly 90% of Texas’ 37,000 school buses emit unhealthy toxins into the bus cabin. In fact, these air toxins are up to four times higher inside the bus cabin than pollution levels outside the school bus.

Luckily, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) received $8.8 million from the EPA to provide grants to Texas’ school districts. These districts can use this money to purchase anti-pollution equipment, such as particulate filters, to reduce the level of toxic emissions released from the buses.

Check out this video where the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) tests the tail pipes of a retrofitted bus with a conventional bus. The retrofitted bus has a diesel particulate filter (DPF) which reduces diesel soot by as much as 90%.


-Cyndi Goodson, Intern