Why You Should Be Cautious About Going Green

The greening of America is big news these days, and Portland is certainly one of the leaders of the revolution. Not only do you hear about the importance of recycling and the pluses of alternative energy, but every day it seems the abandonment of cars for bicycles or public transportation comes up in conversation. It’s great that more people are making an effort to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels, but keep in mind that public transportation, specifically buses, has some drawbacks.

Idling buses fueled by diesel emit hazardous fumes and present dangers to riders as well as bystanders and bus drivers. Recently a group of NYC Transit bus employees filed a lawsuit against 13 diesel engine manufacturers. The lawsuit claims these manufacturers were aware of the dangers of the exhaust fumes yet did nothing about it.

A web site geared toward parents of young children posted an article about the hazards of diesel school bus emissions. It notes that exposure to diesel fumes can lead to serious diseases, including asthma and cancer. School buses often idle when stopped to unload or load passengers, and they also frequently park in a line and idle while waiting for students to come and go. This can result in fumes entering the buses. Fortunately, many communities are taking steps to minimize diesel exhaust exposure. For instance, the Minnesota North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club launched the School Bus Diesel Campaign, which calls for schools to prevent school buses from idling, redesign parking so school buses do not park in close proximity to school buildings, increase school bus maintenance as well as inspection, and more.

So, while it’s great to take public transportation, just be aware of potential dangers, and steer clear of idling diesel buses!