EPA-Funded Clean Diesel Project

Everyone is affected by diesel soot pollution; particulate matter from diesel air pollution irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and even premature death; however, children, the elderly, and individuals with preexisting respiratory conditions are the most vulnerable.(1)  In both Dallas and Harris Counties, TX, nearly 12 % of the population suffers from a known respiratory disease.(2) All of these respiratory conditions are exacerbated by air pollution from diesel engines, resulting in higher numbers of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and missed work days. For asthma alone, annual medical costs, in 1999, were estimated as high as $4,279 per patient.(3)  InTexas, 29.3% of asthmatic adults experienced at least one lost work day each year due to asthma. (4) That figure does not include the number of work days lost to care for a child with asthma. Hospitalization rates for persons in the Texas Counties of Dallas and Harris, who live with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease numbered 1,952 and 3,263, respectively in 2005. (5) Given these statistics, it is clear that retrofits of diesel engines to reduce the harmful respiratory effects could present significant health and economic gains to individuals and employers.

As such, the American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf Region has embarked upon a clean diesel project funded by the EPA and carried-out in conjunction with the Houston Advanced Research Center. The objective of this project is to retrofit diesel vehicles in fleets in the Dallas and Houston metro areas with various diesel catalysts and filters in order to reduce diesel particulate emissions. In addition to these retrofits, training is provided to truck drivers and fleet managers with knowledge and skills to maintain the emissions reduction technology, and increase their understanding of the harmful effects of diesel emissions, excessive idling and wasteful fuel use will be provided. 

Outreach information will provide truck drivers with a greater understanding about the need for environmental stewardship, particularly air quality and vehicle emissions.  American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf Region is also engaged with environmentally concerned organizations, government entities, and businesses to increase public awareness of potential healthy actions to reduce air pollution. Outreach regarding environmental, economic, and health benefits of diesel emissions reductions will achieve increased awareness among diverse audiences of alliance organizations.  Further, American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf Region experience has proven that increased understanding of the health effects of idling results in reduced idling hours.  These cost-effective and effectual behavior change initiatives focused on idle reduction will target fleet staff and the general public to achieve enhanced environmental and health results. 

2) “Estimated prevalence and incidence of lung disease by lung association territory,” American Lung Association, Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, Research and Program Services, Feb 2008.

3) “Cost of Asthma,” Cost of Illness Handbook, United States Environmental Protection Agency: ttp://www.epa.gov/oppt/coi/pubs/view.html

4) The burden of asthma in Texas, 2000-2005: a report from Texas Asthma Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services, Adult Health and Chronic Disease Group, Texas Asthma Program. 

5) Texas Department of State Services, Center for Health Statistics