Kids & diesel fumes
While the media continues to keep us in a constant state of anxiety, a psychic code orange unrelated to terrorism, not one word is ever mentioned about the most insidious health risk we and especially our children face on a daily basis. That risk comes from breathing air polluted by emissions from diesel engines. This is by far the single most toxic, carcinogenic air contaminant. In fact, 70% of cancers caused by air pollution are the result of diesel exhaust.
The United States has over 400,000 diesel-powered school buses, 130 of which serve Traverse City Area Public Schools. Each bus on average produces 364 lbs. of emissions per year, resulting in more than 23 tons of what has been identified as the most carcinogenic air contaminant being released in our school district alone. Children, whose lungs are more vulnerable than those of adults, ride these buses often for long distances, and according to a Yale study, pollution inside each bus is 5-15 times greater than the average outside air.
The Federal goal is to clean up all the nations school buses by 2010. Traverse City Area Public Schools is applying for Federal funding that will hopefully result in the eventual retrofit of at least some buses, but I would like your help to raise public awareness of this real threat, and encourage legislators to place a high priority on fixing something that can be, and needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.
Margaret B. Dodd