I turn my car’s fan OFF whenever I am behind a belching diesel truck or bus (especially if their muffler is located down low – like school buses) and for good reason: diesel exhaust fumes. I’m overly sensitive to chemical smells, and whenever I smell diesel aldehydes I hold my breath and wait for cleaner air.
It made me very, very sad decades ago when I saw children (including my own) being required to stand in line next to a running school bus, breathing in diesel exhaust into their young pink lungs. What a travesty! I knew they were breathing in aldehydes and other carcinogens which would cause health problems decades later. And it would be such an easy fix (it still is!): just raise the damn exhaust muffler from the ground to higher up! Saying something about this, or worse – complaining! – always falls on deaf ears.
Try telling a trucker to stop idling their rig.
As with many modern ailments, asthma and other lung infections are caused by modern lifestyles. There’s a markedly lower asthma rate in industrialized countries that have clean diesel than those that do not.
It’s actually kinda easy to wean a person away from an onset of asthma: breathe cleaner air! It’s that simple. Close your windows when the first school buses and garbage trucks start rolling. Open the windows up again after these trucks stop running. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is one of the few things you can control.
An article in the NYTimes ‘Well‘ clearly states the impact of exercising in polluted cities: “The potential health impacts are worrisome. Studies show that athletes who spend long hours in ice rinks filled with exhaust from Zamboni machines, such as figure skaters and hockey players, have unusually high rates of asthma compared to other athletes.”
So next time there’s a smog alert day in your area, besides trying to pollute less, maybe you can rest your body until the air gets cleaner… you’ll be healthier for it.
“ Diesel exhaust fumes on polluted streets have a measurable effect on people with asthma, according to the first study looking at exhausts and asthma in a real-life setting, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.”
Most countries in Europe have had ‘clean diesel’ for over two decades – and it’s WAY cheaper than regular gasoline. Whenever I rented a car there, I always opted for a diesel one. At ~$8/gallon, fuel costs are often higher than rental fees in Europe.
But the USA, thanks to a powerful lobby group, refuses to pass legislation mandating clean diesel – except for California.
Starting in 2010 cleaner diesel truck engines were phased in. California is leading the USA toward cleaner diesel:
“According to 2015 data compiled by IHS Insight for the Diesel Technology Forum, there are over 900,000 Class 3-8 commercial vehicles in California and about 18 percent are the newest generation clean diesel (2010 Model Year and newer) that achieve near zero NOx and PM emissions. Since 2010, these vehicles alone have saved or eliminated 700,000 tons of NOx and 20,700 tons of PM. They have also saved or eliminated 5.8 million barrels of crude oil and 2.5 million tons of CO2. This compares with just over 15,000 natural gas powered commercial vehicles. Nationwide, almost 26 percent of the diesel commercial vehicle fleet is powered by engines that are 2010 and newer generations.”
These points and others were outlined in the Forum’s final comments submitted Wednesday on the draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan concerning the development of strategies to improve freight efficiency and the transition to zero-emission freight technologies.
And it’s going to get even cleaner with diesels in California, according to Cal’s CARB web site:
The regulation requires diesel trucks and buses that operate in California to be upgraded to reduce emissions. Newer heavier trucks and buses must meet PM filter requirements beginning January 1,2012. Lighter and older heavier trucks must be replaced starting January 1,2015. By January 1,2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.
The regulation applies to nearly all privately and federally owned diesel fueled trucks and buses and to privately and publicly owned school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 pounds. The regulation provides a variety of flexibility options tailored to fleets operating low use vehicles, fleets operating in selected vocations like agricultural and construction, and small fleets of three or fewer trucks.
Now, if we can only get other states to adopt similar clean diesel mandates and save our children’s lungs (and retrofit those school buses!!)
Something as mundane as cleaner diesel is part of ‘The Great Turning’ within the Work that Reconnects (WTR). It’s always easier to remain numb to realities than acknowledge our pain, and make the world a better place – a cornerstone of Joanna Macy’s WTR work: “acknowledge your own pain that ended up as numbness. It’s painful, and hurtful to embrace & acknowledge all the ugliness, violence, chemicals in our daily lives: better just ignore it for your own ‘peace of mind’… which really never comes from numbness.”