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San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District is installing emission reduction devices on 31 of their school buses in order to combat the harmful affects of diesel exhaust. The upgrades are being made to the oldest of the district’s 80-bus fleet.

The devices are funded through the Clean School Bus Program of Central Texas, sponsored by the Capital Area Council of Government’s Clean Air Force of Central Texas.

Hazel Barbour from the Clean School Bus Program said that safety of the students should always be of the utmost importance. “We love it when a district like San Marcos wants to do these things,” Barbour said.

Two devices will be used to particulate matter filters and diesel oxidation catalysts. Particulate matter are fumes that travel back into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. These fumes can originate in the bus’ own engine or can be introduced through the buses ventilation or air conditioning systems. These particulate matters can be extremely harmful to children, resulting in an increased risk of asthma or other respiratory health issues. Since a child’s respiratory system is still developing, they breathe at twice the rate of adults and take in more pollutants. Particulate matter is decreased by 85 to 90 percent once filters are in place.

Diesel oxidation kits include a more eco-friendly muffler and exhaust system. By mounting these devices on the engine and replacing old mufflers, bus emissions are reduced by 40 percent, said Ernest Martinez, the associate transportation director.

“These kits — combined with the district’s ‘no-idle’ policy and use of bio-diesel fuels — will greatly reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. It will also help further reduce the amount of particulate matter being released into other buses,” Martinez said.

Exhaust fumes can originate in the engine or can be introduced through the buses ventilation or air conditioning system. The particulate matters can be harmful to children and result in the increased risk of asthma and other respiratory health issues. New filters will decrease particulate matter by up to 90 percent.

The diesel oxidation kits include a more eco-friendly muffler and exhaust system. Placing the devices on the engines and replacing the old mufflers will reduce bus emissions by 40 percent, district officials say. The filter installation will be completed by the end of January.

“I have a child, and I will feel very comfortable knowing that their bus ride will be almost completely pollution-free,” Fleet Manager Rick Garcia said.

— From a San Marcos CISD press release

COVER PHOTO: Some of the 80 school buses in the district’s fleet. Thirty-one of them are being fitted with emission reduction devices including particulate matter filtration and diesel oxidation. ABOVE: Rick Garcia unpacks some of the devices as the transportation and maintenance facility on Hunter Road. PHOTOS by JAMAR KEATON

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