Schools Receive Grant to Reduce Diesel Pollution

Oct 30, 2009

Clean Air Carolina (CAC), in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and Union County Public Schools (UCPS), received a $536,000 grant to reduce diesel emissions from school buses and fuel trucks. A joint press conference was held at Matthews Elementary on Wednesday, October 21, as part of CMS Superintendent, Dr. Gorman’s weekly briefing.

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant is federally funded, administered by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and available to areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (or non-attainment areas) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Union and Mecklenburg Counties are both part of an eight county ozone non-attainment region designated by the EPA in 2004. Projects are eligible for CMAQ grants if they contribute to air quality improvement andor reduce traffic congestion.

CAC wrote and submitted the grant to help the school systems continue their goals of greening their fleets. The funds will be used to purchase and install EPACARB verified pollution control devices on the school buses. These devices reduce the amount of soot and other toxic pollutants that are emitted from the tailpipe. Diesel exhaust contains fine particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and pose health risks, especially to school children as their respiratory systems are still developing.

The CMAQ grant will allow for the retrofitting of 24 school buses in Union County with diesel particulate filters which will help reduce harmful diesel emissions by at least 85%. CMS plans to retrofit 47 school buses and 15 fuel trucks with diesel multi-stage filters to reduce harmful emissions by at least 55%. This grant will help reduce the following pollutants:

  • PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) – 156 kg/yr
  • NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) – 210 kg/yr
  • CO (Carbon Monoxide) – 1,168 kg/yr
  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – 526 kg/yr

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Union County Public Schools have been regional leaders in reducing emissions from diesel school buses. Collectively, the districts’ transportation departments carried approximately 142,500 students to and from school every day last year and traveled nearly 165 million miles. The children riding the buses, school staff, and the community all benefit from the reduction of pollution. “We appreciate the support of Clean Air Carolina in helping us reduce diesel emissions from our buses,” said Carol Stamper, Executive Director of Transportation at CMS. “Installing these devices on our buses will make a tremendous difference in improving the air quality for our students and the community.”

CAC conducted a test on two school bus tailpipes using white handkerchiefs in an effort to demonstrate how much pollution can be captured by emissions control devices. This test provided the media a visual example of the current pollution that will be addressed by this grant.