Green Machines 

County school buses get an earth-friendly upgrade.

School buses, notorious for spitting out smelly diesel exhaust, aren't exactly known as green vehicles.

But around 120 Shelby County school buses are slated to get an eco-friendly facelift by June, thanks to efforts by the Shelby County Health Department.

To date, 70 of those buses have been retrofitted using clean diesel technologies such as closed crankcase ventilation systems and diesel particulate filters designed to reduce emissions and pollution upwards of 95 percent by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) estimations.

While the health department is focusing on the health of local children, the school bus retrofit project should prove beneficial for the entire community by helping reduce the amount of pollution going into the city's air, water, and soil.

"These diesel retrofit [projects] are going on all around the country," said Larry Smith, supervisor of the Shelby County Health Department. "Diesel vehicles, not just school buses, tend to have a longer service life than your average gas-burning car. So we have a lot of older vehicles that don't have the pollution control equipment still running."

Most diesel vehicles created after 2005 are equipped with clean diesel technology. By replacing the exhaust systems on older buses with technology to filter out most of the particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxides, the health department is mitigating the amount of noxious fumes students inhale inside and around school buses.

The pollutants have been known to cause a number of lung problems including asthma, bronchitis, non-fatal heart attacks, and several cancers, according to the EPA.

And while there is little data available on the amount of fumes and pollutants that leak into buses without clean diesel technology, the new eco-friendly systems should ensure only fresh air makes it inside the retrofitted buses.

Depending on the engine configuration on each school bus, the EPA estimates the cost of retrofitting to range from $8,000 to $50,000 per bus, though Smith argues that the Shelby County school buses tend to fall on the less expensive side.

"We only have two types of [school buses]," Smith said, "and both are beautiful fits with this technology."

Funding for the project, which was approved by Shelby County government and the EPA, is coming from a past settlement with Cargill Inc. totaling $500,000. Smith said that's enough money to cover the project.

"Every bus that qualifies for retrofitting is going to get it, which is a really great thing about this project. We're not going to miss any [school bus]," Smith said.

The health department is also beginning to work with the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) on a similar project with older city buses, Smith said.

"With budgets being tight, [MATA] is running their buses a bit longer than usual," Smith said, "so we're talking with them about that project."


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Kratom, Greenline, U of M

      DEA backs of kratom, the Greenline may expand westward, U of M gets a new board.
    • Blue Review

      Allegations of police misconduct get public hearings.
    • Q&A with Nicholas Oyler

      The city’s new Bikeway and Pedestrian Program manager


Intermission Impossible

Looking for a Halloween Costume? Theatre Memphis is Having a Yard Sale.

Politics Beat Blog

C-SPAN's Coming!

Politics Beat Blog

Guns to Blast and the Stars and Bars to Fly Again in Bartlett

Fly On The Wall Blog

Bob Corker Has Tiny Feet And It's Funny When He Stamps Them

Music Blog

Rest in Peace Sports Junction


Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

Hungry Memphis

Crosstown Arts to Open Cafe

Tiger Blue

AAC Picks: Week 8

Fly On The Wall Blog

George Perez: Cool Things About Memphis Comic Expo Part II


More by Andrew Caldwell

  • Unleaded Art

    Memphis College of Art students design mural for Discount Gas.
    • May 31, 2012
  • Beer Run

    Downtown Bardog regulars trade brews for running shoes.
    • May 17, 2012
  • Q & A with Mike Lee

    Co-founder of High Cotton Brewing Company/Owner of Mid-South Malts
    • May 3, 2012
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation