School-BusIowa school districts are encouraged to apply for federal funding to replace old school buses that emit large amounts of air pollution. Karen Grimes, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says only a few Iowa districts are likely to be awarded a share of the money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“There’s $7 million available nationwide…so that’s only about $140,000 per state,” Grimes said. Last year, seven school districts in Iowa were awarded EPA funding toward the purchase of at least one new bus. They were the Cherokee, Columbus, North Linn, Odebolt Arthur, Starmont, Waverly-Shell Rock, and West Delaware Community School Districts.

School buses built before 2007 have diesel engines that emit tiny particles known to aggravate asthma, and cause lung damage and other serious health problems.

“You know, here are school children who wait for those buses, often as those buses are running,” Grimes said. “So, it’s a really great program and opportunity to cut those diesel exhaust fumes down and make it safer for our kids.” School districts have until October 30 to apply for the EPA funding rebates, which can be used to purchases new buses.

The Iowa Department of Education reports there are around 6,000 school buses in the state and roughly one-third are from model years 2006 or older. Buses built after 2006 were designed to cut emissions by 90 percent.