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Children's Health

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Study Shows School Bus Pollution 'Shocking'

Pollution Found Inside Buses, but Industry Official Says Test Used Older Buses

Researcher's Perspective

This may not sound like a lot," says Marshall in a news release. "But intake fraction values for vehicle emissions are 5-15 per million in a typical U.S. urban area, and about 50 per million in a large urban area like Los Angeles."

The finding of comparable values is "shocking," says Marshall in the news release.

"This means that for every ton of pollution emitted by a school bus, the cumulative mass of pollution inhaled by the 40 or so kids on that bus is comparable to -- or in many cases larger than -- the cumulative mass inhaled by all the other people in an urban area."

In the study, Marshall and colleagues say their numbers are averages and that the results might not be typical of the entire school bus fleet, given the study's small size.

Their calculations showed that "on commute days, for newer and year-1975 buses, students commuting on school buses have 34% and 70% higher intakes of DPM than car commuters, respectively," says the study.

"The daily inhalation intake by a child of emissions from the one school bus on which he or she commutes is between about seven and about 70 times greater than the average daily inhalation intake by a typical South Coast resident of emissions from all school buses," says the study.

Industry's Response

Corr tells WebMD that the industry is working with the Union of Concerned Scientists and is "looking for every advantage we can" to reduce school bus emissions.

"In addition to vehicle technology, there are many other choices out there," he says. "The use of ultra-low sulphur fuel alone cuts emissions. Reducing idling and the use of engine heaters for winter warming have an immediate impact."

"As fleets acquire new equipment, they will be prioritized on the longest routes," says Corr. "We recognize that much has to do with school districts and what they can afford with the pressures of their budgets."

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