Diesel exhaust is a type of fuel derived from crude oil, and is used in most large engines including those used in many trucks, buses, trains, construction equipment, ships, farm equipment and some cars. Diesel exhaust contains both gases and particles.
This exhaust poses a serious risk to Allegheny County residents’ health. It causes asthma attacks and asthma onset, coughing and breathing difficulty, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, heart attacks, stroke, and even premature death. Children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory ailments are especially sensitive to diesel pollution.
The major goal of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is to identify causes of cancer. IARC classifies diesel engine exhaust as “carcinogenic to humans,” based on sufficient evidence that it is linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. IARC also notes that there is “some evidence of a positive association” between diesel exhaust and bladder cancer. In a 2013 study, diesel exhaust was pinpointed as the leading inhalation cancer risk in Pittsburgh.
In addition to being a threat to public health, black carbon, a component of diesel pollution, is a large driver of climate change. Black carbon is a form of particulate matter emitted by diesels (and other sources) that warms the atmosphere by absorbing sunlight and radiating heat into the air.
GASP works to reduce toxic diesel pollution from all types of diesel vehicles including school and transit buses, garbage trucks, construction vehicles, locomotives, and marine vessels operating in Allegheny County.
Thankfully there are many strategies for reducing diesel pollution, including replacing old equipment, retrofitting equipment to meet new emissions standards, using cleaner fuels, and curtailing unnecessary idling.
GASP urges eligible groups such as school districts, school bus companies, municipalities, and fleet owners to take advantage of various funding opportunities to help them clean up their fleet.
Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program
Eligible diesel vehicles, engines, and equipment may include school buses, Class 5–Class 8 heavy-duty highway vehicles, marine engines, locomotives and nonroad engines, equipment, or vehicles used in construction, handling of cargo (including at ports or airports), agriculture, mining or energy production (including stationary generators and pumps).
To help Pennsylvania meet its diesel emissions reduction goals, the Wolf Administration has developed new grant and rebate programs to improve air quality in Pennsylvania and drive transformation from older, polluting diesel engines to clean technologies.
New engine technologies like electric, compressed natural gas, propane, and clean diesel can significantly reduce pollutants from freight and delivery trucks, transit and school buses, cargo handling equipment, ocean going vessels in port, forklifts, tugs, and freight switchers that rely on older diesel technology.
PA DEP’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Program
DEP is seeking applications for innovative, advanced fuel and vehicle technology projects resulting in cleaner advanced alternative transportation within this Commonwealth.
Grants will be available for school districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, nonprofit entities, corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated or registered in the Commonwealth.