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New Hampshire Receives $100,000 EPA Grant for Clean School Buses; Funds Will Help Upgrade Manchester and Nashua School Buses

Release Date: 07/06/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: July 6, 2004; Release # 04-07-05

NASHUA, NH – The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is awarding $100,000 to the state of New Hampshire so that at least 45 diesel school buses in Manchester and Nashua can be upgraded in the coming months with pollution control equipment. Manchester and Nashua are the first two communities in New Hampshire to undertake school bus retrofit projects which will substantially reduce soot and other pollutant emissions from school buses.

The project, announced this morning at a ceremony at Nashua High School North, is among 20 proposals selected for funding from among 120 applications nationwide. The projects are being funded with a $5 million Congressional appropriation for EPA’s Clean School Bus USA Program. An additional 17 clean school bus projects were funded last fall.

President Bush’s 2005 budget proposal will request an unprecedented $65 million for cleaner school buses.

The grant is being awarded to the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES), which will work in partnership with public and private transportation providers to install approximately 30 diesel oxidation catalysts and crankcase filters on buses in the Manchester School District and 15 on buses in the Nashua School District. The equipment will reduce pollutant emissions from the diesel buses by more than 30 percent. The New England Asthma Regional Council (ARC) will evaluate the ease of installation and operation of the pollution control equipment so that other communities can benefit from the lessons learned.

“New Hampshire DES deserves kudos for putting together a project that will help enormously in curbing air pollution from diesel school buses in Manchester and Nashua,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “With childhood asthma rates increasing all across the country, projects such as this will help us provide our children with cleaner air and healthier learning environments.”

Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of diesel emissions, which can cause respiratory disease and exacerbate long-term conditions such as asthma. New Hampshire’s childhood asthma rate is over 10 percent, according to a study released this year by ARC.

Since 2002, DES and the NH School Transportation Association have been working together on a voluntary initiative to protect school children and bus drivers from excessive exposure to exhaust emissions from school buses by reducing bus idling time. To date, more than 30 different fleets – representing over 65 percent of the school buses in the state – have officially adopted anti-idling policies, including the Nashua and Manchester School Districts.

DES and the school transportation association have developed various educational materials to involve school transportation providers and school superintendents in this campaign, including newsletters, workshops and bus driver training and awards programs. Special "Clean Air Driver" magnets are given to all drivers to display in their buses to show that they have "taken the pledge" to reduce school bus idling.

This grant will launch the next phase of New Hampshire's initiative, which will focus on reducing school bus emissions through the use of pollution control devices. Reducing idling, retrofitting existing school buses and replacing the oldest buses are all important components of reducing children's exposure to harmful air pollutants.

ARC is a coalition of public agencies, private organizations and researchers in New England working to reduce the impact of asthma on children and families. ARC’s research and action concentrates on eliminating asthma triggers from schools and homes across the region.

“New Englanders are suffering disproportionately from asthma, and we believe that outdoor and indoor air quality is partly to blame,” said Laurie Stillman, ARC’s executive director. “We need to think of creative ways to tackle our dirty air, and reducing children’s exposure to diesel school bus fumes is one of those ways. We are thrilled to be working in partnership with New Hampshire to reduce diesel bus emissions and further protect children’s health.”

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, respiratory symptoms in healthy individuals and other health problems. Children are more susceptible to air pollution than healthy adults because their respiratory systems are still developing and they have a faster breathing rate.

School buses provide a vital service, safely transporting 1.7 million children in New England to and from school every day. Cleaner school buses help not only the children who ride them but also their bus drivers, teachers, families, and communities who benefit from cleaner air and reduced exposure to diesel exhaust.

For more information on the agency’s Clean School Bus USA program and other issues regarding diesel emissions, visit the agency’s web site at www.epa.gov/ne/eco/diesel/index.html

Related Information:
Asthma
Diesel Exhaust
Air Enforcement