The Clean School Bus’s National Idle Reduction Campaign has been helping communities take action towards a cleaner and healthier environment through the school bus industry. Their efforts towards idle reduction bring several interesting points to the table of clean environment discussions. In their article “Idle Reduction – Clean School Bus” (1), the United States Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) discusses how unnecessary school bus idling affects human health, pollutes the air, wastes fuel, and causes excess engine wear.
Fine particulate matter that comes from diesel exhaust poses a significant health risk. These tiny particles enter the atmosphere through excessive idling and can cause severe health complications and even premature death. Entering the body through the nose and throat, they have a tendency to get lodged in the lungs causing lung damage and other acute to chronic health issues.
Air pollution is no stranger to the idle reduction conversation. It is commonly known that idling school buses can pollute the air. However, how many of us have thought about the fact that these buses are idling and polluting the air that surrounds our children’s schools? As buses idle outside schools waiting to pick up and drop off our children, the exhaust from the engines enters the school buildings through air intakes, doors, and open windows, polluting the air that our children and teachers breathe in their classrooms.
According to the EPA article, “When idling, a typical school bus engine burns about half a gallon of fuel per hour.” One bus that idles for 30 minutes each day uses 45 gallons of fuel each year. Preventing this will save an average of $180 a year based on a fuel cost of $4.00 per gallon. Applying this to the estimated 480,000 school buses in the US, $86,400,000 could be saved a year, keeping in mind that most buses idle for more than just 30 minutes per day.
It is true that bus engines require some idle time in order to warm up. However, anything longer than a few minutes is unnecessary and can actually cause engine damage. Not only is this bad for the engine, but it is also extremely harmful for the environment.
Many bus and transportation companies are becoming more and more aware of the severity of these issues and are turning to alternative forms of fuel and energy. These alternatives are proving to be an effective solution for human health, pollution and engine/vehicle maintenance. As bus fleet owners begin to recognize the extreme benefits of these alternatives, we can expect to see a positive change in the cleanliness of our environment.
(1) “Idle Reduction – Clean School Bus | Sector Programs | National Clean Diesel Campaign | US EPA.” US Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 9 Sept. 2013. <http://www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus/antiidling