Healthy School Environments
Why It's Important
- Buses idling at schools can produce concentrated diesel exhaust emissions inside and outside schools.
- Diesel exhaust can cause lung damage when inhaled and has been identified as a likely cause of cancer.
- The soot and gases emitted by diesel engines are associated with:
- Acute eye, throat and bronchial irritation
- Exacerbation of asthma and allergies
- Potential interference with lung development in children
- In addition to impacting human health, diesel exhaust also harms the environment by contributing to smog formation and acid rain.
What You Can Do
- Ask if your school or community's idling practices have been assessed, and identify areas for improvement.
- Reduce unnecessary idling by adopting an anti-idling policy for school buses, passenger vehicles and delivery trucks.
- Use the tools on this page to engage school officials, teachers, parents and students in creating an idle reduction campaign.
- See Component 3 of EPA's School Environmental Health Guidelines for more information.
EPA Region 8's toolkit includes information on running an effective idling reduction campaign at school in order to reduce student exposure to toxic vehicle exhaust. Resources are also provided to make the campaign a student-run science or community involvement project.
Find More From...
EPA and Federal Partners
- Clean School Bus USA is a program run by EPA that helps communities reduce emissions from older diesel school buses. The program emphasizes two key strategies:
- National Clean Diesel Campaign from EPA offers numerous tools for reducing emissions and examples of emission reduction projects, including a State and Local Toolkit.
- Diesel Exhaust is a fact sheet by EPA that describes steps to take to reduce diesel emissions, as well as the health effects associated with diesel exhaust.
- Health Assessment Document for Diesel Exhaust by EPA examines information regarding the possible health hazards associated with exposure to diesel engine exhaust, which is a mixture of gases and particles.
Regional, State and Local Resources
- Sensible Steps for Healthier School Environments by EPA provides an overview of issues related to buses and vehicle idling around schools.
- Anti-Idling Programs offers free resources from AirwatchNW to help gather information on idling in your community and create an idling reduction program. The website includes numerous templates for engaging schools by contacting principals, teachers, bus drivers and parents.
- Diesel Programs and Activities describes efforts of the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board to reduce diesel exhaust from vehicles and stationary engines and equipment. Related programs such as risk reduction, toxic control, credits and incentives, and research are also addressed.
- The Children's School Bus Exposure Study was conducted by the California Air Resources Board to characterize the range of children's exposures to diesel vehicle-related pollutants and other vehicle pollutants during their commutes to school by diesel school buses.
- Diesel Emissions Reduction Toolkit for Colleges/Universities, Hospitals, and Municipalities by the Northeast Diesel Collaborative links to resources addressing idle reduction, retrofit technologies, school buses, alternative fuels, construction, regulations and more.
- Adopting Clean Fuels and Technologies on School Buses: Pollution and Health Impacts in Children published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine discusses how national and local diesel policies appear to have reduced children’s exposure to pollution and improved health.