Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah

School buses may spout less gunk with help of grants

The Salt Lake Tribune
Lisa Schencker
August 1, 2008

Nearly half of Utah's school buses might soon spout fewer harmful pollutants.

The state's Division of Air Quality expects to receive $2.3 million in federal, state and local money to help about 1,150 school buses clean up their acts, said Mat Carlile, an environmental planning consultant with the division. The money would go toward installing devices on diesel-power school buses that would keep them from releasing as many pollutants into the air and the interiors of buses.

"Not only will the air children breathe on the bus be cleaner, it will be cleaner for the rest of us as well," said Stacee Adams, an environmental planning consultant with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

Buses with the devices would release 40 percent less particulate matter, which is soot and dust that can damage the lungs, Carlile said. They'd release 60 percent less carbon monoxide and 75 percent less volatile organic compounds, which react with nitrogen and heat to form the pollutant ozone in the summer.

For Utah, that will likely mean 1,360 fewer pounds of particulate matter, 5.77 fewer tons of volatile organic compounds and 18.66 fewer tons of carbon monoxide in the air each year, Carlile said.

Murrell Martin, pupil transportation specialist at the Utah State Office of Education, said that's good news for children, whose lungs are not as fully developed as adults.

"Too much exposure can cause damage," Martin said.

He said four of Utah's 40 districts - Park City, Davis, Cache and Logan - are already working on installing the devices on their buses with different money. About another 20 districts, he said, have expressed a strong interest in getting the devices.

The grants would be used to install devices only on buses built between 1993 and 2006. Buses built since then are already low-emission, Martin said.

Marty Latimer, a staff assistant for the Jordan School District's transportation department, said Jordan will likely pursue getting the devices. Already, he said, 27 of Jordan's 300 buses are new. Forty-four of the district's buses use compressed natural gas, meaning they already run clean, he said.

Carlile said the Division of Air Quality, which is part of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, will get about $400,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), $100,000 appropriated by the Legislature, and will contribute $96,000 itself.

Another $1.5 million will likely come from the Wasatch Front Regional Council and Mountainland Association of Governments, pending final approval by both those bodies, Carlile said.

The rest of the money would come from a non-competitive EPA grant, Carlile said. He said the division expects to receive that grant money but will likely know for sure in August.

Adams said installation of the devices likely will start next year.

The Division of Air Quality, the state education office, the Salt Lake County Mayor's office, the EPA, Utah Clean Cities, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah Moms for Clean Air, the Wasatch Clean Air Coalition and Utah County all worked together on the issue.

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