School bus pollutants tackled

A fleet of school buses in Manchester has been fitted with anti-pollution devices in a bid to protect children from potentially deadly airborne particles.

The city’s Passenger Transport Executive has fitted all 29 of its yellow school buses with emissions scrubbers which can remove up to 99% of the harmful ultra-fine particles from diesel exhaust fumes.

Ultra-fine particulates are one of the worst forms of air pollution in terms of damage to human health.

They pose a serious risk to the respiratory system and are known to contribute to premature deaths as a result of carrying potentially carcinogenic compounds deep into the lungs, worsening asthma and causing heart damage.

It is children and the elderly who are particularly at risk.

In April the Government’s Air Quality Strategy Review suggested that air pollution from particulates is currently estimated to reduce the life expectancy of every person in the UK by an average of eight months, possibly more in urban areas.

In 2005 the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy analysed figures from 61 monitoring points across the UK showing that, in some spots, the concentration of particulates is getting worse. It has urged vehicle manufacturers to fit particulate-traps as standard.

Although particulates can come from a variety of sources, exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles such as buses, are the most common and prevalent culprits.

Peter Black, environmental planning manager for Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, said: “We took this decision as part of our sustainable travel plans to protect the lungs and health of our local school children as well as the rest of the people of Manchester.

“School children face enough danger from road and transport issues as it is, without the risks of ill-health from breathing in dangerous particulates.”

The PowerTrap devices fitted were produced by local company Per-Tec.

Peter Kukla, managing director of the company said: “I think the GMPTE deserve praise for helping protect the health of local children and taking such a positive lead on air quality issues.

“We’ve had a number of enquiries from other bus fleets around the country since we started working with GMPTE, particularly urban fleets which are looking either to fit for the first time or replace other systems which are getting blocked-up or simply not reaching the required temperatures to work effectively. I look forward to working with all these fleets to help improve local air quality.”

Sam Bond

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