Citing the harmful impact diesel emissions have on student health, the Carmel Clay School District in Indiana is making the most of a $50,000 grant to increase the number of propane school buses in its fleet.
The district announced on Thursday that it had received the grant from the Indiana Office of Energy Development and the U.S. Department of Energy. That money will go toward the purchase of five propane school buses that will replace five diesel buses. Once the process is complete, the district will have 14 propane-powered school buses, several of which are supplied by manufacturer Blue Bird, and is looking to acquire more.
Ron Farrand, CCSD director of facilities and transportation, told Fox 59 that students congregate twice daily around a group of running school buses.
Gabe Filipelli, a Department of Earth Sciences professor at the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, confirmed to the channel that constant exposure to diesel emissions is equivalent to smoking nine packs of cigarettes a year.
“Diesel emissions have a pretty profoundly negative impact on people,” Filipelli explained. “If you can get it out of schools and get it out of school buses, you’re going to have a net win for the future.”
The Coalition for Clean Air and the Natural Resources Defense Council published a 2001 study that found school bus diesel exhaust could cause cancer in 23-46 out of every million students who ride the bus for 1-2 hours per school day.
“We are committed to decreasing children’s exposure to harmful emissions, lowering maintenance costs through the use of a cleaner-burning fuel, and increasing fuel diversity for a safer community and world,” the transportation department said in a statement.