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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2004

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795

DEP URGES SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS TO "TURN OFF YOUR ENGINES!"

Eliminating Idling Promotes Good Health And Saves Money

(04/116) Trenton -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today called upon school districts and school bus companies to help protect schoolchildren from a health threat they face every day-diesel exhaust from school buses. DEP is urging school districts and school bus operators to voluntarily eliminate school bus idling while waiting to load and unload students.

"Idling hurts children because they are especially vulnerable to asthma attacks, bronchitis and other illnesses caused by the soot in diesel emissions," said Commissioner Campbell. "In New Jersey alone, one in every 13 schoolchildren has asthma, which is a leading cause of school absenteeism. We are asking school bus drivers to help improve the air our children breathe with one simple task: turn off your engines."

Campbell made today's announcement at the Grandview Elementary School in Piscataway. Joining Campbell were Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, and Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman John McKeon, who are co-sponsoring legislation to reduce diesel emissions from on-road and off-road vehicles. Also, a representative from the Pediatric/Adult Asthma Coalition of New Jersey, Carol McGotty, addressed outdoor air quality and the alarming rise in pediatric asthma among New Jersey's schoolchildren.

"Over and over again, scientific studies have found links between exposure to harmful diesel emissions and increased incidents of asthma, higher rates of allergies, cardiovascular problems, and even cancer," said Senator Bob Smith. "The number of premature deaths that can be attributed to diesel emissions exposure could exceed the annual number of homicides or motor vehicle accident fatalities in the State. It is estimated that New Jersey citizens spend $70 million each year for health care impacts from diesel particulates."

New Jersey law prohibits engines, including school buses, from idling for more than three minutes in most instances; however, DEP is urging school districts and school bus drivers to go beyond the minimum and implement best practices to reduce harmful diesel emissions. These best practices include turning off engines when waiting to load and unload students, replacing old buses in the fleet first as they often release the most emissions, and using new buses for long routes.

Diesel emissions are a likely carcinogen, and include fine particles, commonly called soot. These pollutants are known to cause asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, heart disease and premature death. Diesel exhaust ranks among the air pollutants that pose the greatest risk to public health. Research has shown that fine particles are harmful because they bypass the body's natural defense mechanisms and penetrate deep into the lungs. In fact, diesel soot particles are so tiny that several thousand could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.

As part of DEP's commitment to providing a cleaner, healthier environment for New Jersey's citizens, the state has pledged to reduce harmful soot by 20 percent during the next decade. One way to help achieve this goal is by eliminating engine idling. DEP's anti-idling awareness campaign encourages school districts and school bus companies to sign a no-idling pledge.

As well as the health benefits, eliminating idling saves money by conserving fuel and reducing the frequency of maintenance and replacement of school buses.

To learn more about diesel emissions and public health, visit DEP's Web site:
www.stopthesoot.org

To learn more about the Pediatric/Adult Asthma Coalition of New Jersey, visit their Web site:
http://www.pacnj.org/

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