Release 02-46      

December 12, 2002


Jerry Martin
Gennet Paauwe
(916) 322-2990
Air Board Adopts Measure to Reduce Pollution from School Bus Idling

-- A measure adopted today by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) eliminates unnecessary idling for school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles, protecting children from unhealthful exhaust emissions. The main purpose of the measure is to reduce localized exposure to air toxics and other harmful air pollutants at and near schools.

“Restricted idling times at schools will not only protect our children from toxic air contaminants, but improve air quality in the surrounding area,” said ARB Chairman, Alan C. Lloyd.

In addition to protecting childrens’ health, reducing motor vehicle emissions will benefit teachers, parents, bus maintenance workers and drivers, and people who live or work near schools.

The measure is expected to save school districts and other operators up to $800,000 in fuel costs.

More than 26,000 school buses operate in California. Emissions from individual school buses and heavy-duty vehicles vary, depending on vehicle type, age, maintenance and amount of time spent idling. Health impacts from exhaust exposure include: eye and respiratory irritation, enhanced respiratory allergic reactions, asthma exacerbation, increased cancer risk, and immune system degradation.

The measure, part of California’s Diesel Particulate Matter Risk Reduction Plan, but expanded to include other bus types, requires the driver of a school bus or other heavy-duty vehicle not to idle at schools. Additional unnecessary idling restrictions are imposed for such vehicles stopping within 100 feet of a school. Exemptions are provided for idling that is necessary for safety or operational purposes. The measure does not affect private passenger vehicles.

The measure also requires the motor carrier to inform drivers of the idling requirements, track complaints and enforcement actions, and keep records of driver education and tracking activities.

Training and record keeping costs are expected to be approximately $2 per driver per year, based on the ARB providing educational materials while fleet operators use existing procedures to disseminate appropriate information to their personnel.

Some California school districts have already implemented bus idling policies as a proactive step in health protection. The measure adopted today is expected to take effect at the start of the fall school semester, 2003, after going through California's review process for new regulations.

For more information on the school bus idling measure, click here.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at 

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