by Eileen Weber
School is in full swing and that means so are all the school buses. They’re big. They’re bulky. They belch exhaust. So, what’s an environmentally-conscious parent to do?
In a press release from the EPA, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) was awarded close to $500,000 for their Clean School Bus project. This initiative specifically targets school buses and the exhaust these buses create. Each year since its inception in 2006, money has been allotted for school districts across the state to retro-fit or to replace their buses as needed to lower diesel emissions.
Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of the EPA’s New England Office, was quoted as saying, “Fleet by fleet, we are helping to provide cleaner air for our children.”
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Not surprisingly, exhaust fumes have been cited as a major irritant for asthmatics. In fact, even those who do not have the disease have exhibited asthmatic symptoms from long-term exposure to the fumes. And unfortunately, children are the biggest victims—especially in urban areas where exhaust fumes are at their worst. Major cities like Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford see the worst cases from inner-city kids.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the asthma rate in the U.S. has risen over the past 15 years. They estimate that more than 15 million people suffer from it today. Some of the highest asthma rates in the nation are in the Northeast.
CT DEP plans to use that portion of the grant funded by the EPA to equip school buses with technology meant to better control pollution. The funds will also be used as an incentive for schools that have not already made strides to improve their bus system.
Every little bit counts. Perhaps with a little time and some added patience, there just may be cleaner air for our children yet.