The Rhode Island departments of Environmental Management, Health, and Elementary and Secondary Education sent a joint letter to school superintendents asking them to enforce state regulations that limit school bus idling time. File photo

The Rhode Island departments of Environmental Management, Health, and Elementary and Secondary Education sent a joint letter to school superintendents asking them to enforce state regulations that limit school bus idling time. File photo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — State officials here are asking school districts to help reduce the amount of diesel exhaust emissions.

The Rhode Island departments of Environmental Management, Health, and Elementary and Secondary Education recently sent a joint letter to school superintendents asking them to enforce state regulations that limit school bus idling time and encouraging school transportation providers to replace aging diesel buses with cleaner, environmentally-friendly models.

Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management, said that school districts can help the environment and improve public health by shutting off bus engines immediately upon arriving at school and not restarting the engines until they are ready to depart. Coit added that despite improvements to the state’s air quality over the past two decades, diesel exhaust pollution still contributes to climate change and smog.

According to a press release from the state departments, diesel exhaust from idling school buses can pose a health risk to both students and bus drivers, triggering asthma attacks and stunting lung growth in students. The release also stated that asthma is reaching epidemic proportions across the state, is the most common chronic disease in children, and is responsible for the most school absences in Rhode Island.

For more information on the state's anti-idling program, go here.

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