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Georgia’s School Students at Risk for Illnesses from Toxic Exhaust Fumes

Georgia’s school children are sharing their buses with more than just their school mates, this report reveals. The presence of several types of toxins that can not only trigger asthma and other respiratory disorders, but also cause cancer is enough reason for parents to worry. .

According to the report, newer school buses come with special particulate filters that block these toxins from entering the passenger cabins. However, an overwhelming majority of school buses in operation in the state are older and come with an antiquated exhaust system that does little to prevent particulates from entering the cabin.In the cabins, these often carcinogenic substances wear away at young, developing lungs that are more at risk for the detrimental health effects caused by these minute particles.

Some schools seem to have done a better job of protecting children from the risk of illnesses caused by these toxins than others. Atlanta Public Schools for instance, has retrofitted 373 of its school buses with newer diesel particulate filters. The school district used funds allotted to it in 2005 to carry out the retrofitting. In sharp contrast, Gwinnett County Public Schools has not made any attempts at retrofitting its buses, and has not even applied for funds to carry out the retrofitting programs. Gwinnett County is Georgia’s largest public school district, and the failure to equip existing vehicles with the new filter systems means that 120,000 students are traveling in these school buses everyday, inhaling toxic flumes that are dangerous to their health.

Across the state, just about 1,100 of existing school buses out of a total of 19,000 have been retrofitted with the filter mechanisms. That’s a shocking number of buses still plying to and from schools exposing children to dangerous diesel particulate matter. According to a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency, a child’ s risk of cancer over his lifetime could increase by about 4% from the inhalation of diesel particulates in school buses. There is also an increased risk for respiratory disorders and serious flare-ups of asthma.

DeKalb County School District has applied for more funding to equip more of its 1097 buses with the particulate filters. About 33 of the buses have been retrofitted so far. Cob County school district has not yet begun the retrofitting due to lack of funds, but is preparing to apply for funds to begin retrofitting 150 of the district’s more than 1,000 buses.

We tend to be concerned about the safety of our children on school premises, but as the report shows, parents and Georgia personal injurylawyers must also weigh in on the safety of children as they travel to and from school in a school bus. Parent groups and environmental officials must lobby to make these buses cleaner, pollution free and safer for kids.