Helping Reduce Puerto Rico School Bus Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that Puerto Rico would participate in a national program aimed at cleaning up school buses across the country. The newly formed Puerto Rico Clean School Bus USA Workgroup called Alianza Puertorriquena Guaguas Limpias, Aire Limpio, is a partnership of federal and commonwealth agencies, as well as the private and academic institutions. The announcement was made at a ceremony held at Polytechnic University, where the EPA joined Alianza Puertorriquena Guaguas Limpias, Aire Limpio to unveil the first school bus in Puerto Rico to be retrofitted with pollution control equipment.

In addition, the EPA also announced that Puerto Rico has joined the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, allowing it to compete for millions of dollars of EPA grant money given to school districts and organizations to help pay for pollution control equipment. EPA will open its competition for this grant money in the near future.

Clean School Bus USA is a voluntary partnership launched by the EPA in 2003. The goal of the program is to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust and the amount of air pollution created by diesel school buses by promoting the reduction of unnecessary bus idling and providing funding to retrofit buses with pollution-reducing devices, such as the type installed on the bus unveiled last week, and to replace the oldest buses with new, less-polluting models.

The school bus in last week’s event was retrofitted with a device called a diesel oxidation catalyst, which uses a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream into less harmful components. This device cuts fine particles from tailpipe emissions by at least 20%, hydrocarbons by at least 50% and carbon monoxide by at least 30%. The catalysts can be installed on older buses and run on regular diesel fuel or biodiesel, which is diesel fuel derived from animal or vegetable sources.

To learn more about the Clean School Bus USA program and the Northeast Collaborative visit http://www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus and http://northeastdiesel.org.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor Today: Beny Shlevich