Diesel Particulates Affect Clean Air, Respiratory Health

By Senator Bob Smith


There are many different types of vehicles on New Jerseyís roads that operate using diesel fuel. Unfortunately, diesel emissions from buses, trucks and other vehicles contain particulates that are harmful not only to our environment, but also to our health.


Over and over again, scientific studies have found links between exposure to harmful diesel emissions and increased incidents of asthma, higher rates of allergies, cardiovascular problems, and even cancer. The number of premature deaths that can be attributed to diesel emissions exposure could exceed the annual number of homicides or motor vehicle accident fatalities in the State. It is estimated that New Jersey citizens spend $70 million each year for health care impacts from diesel particulates.


Unless the emissions from diesel-powered trucks, buses, and off-road equipment currently operating in New Jersey are controlled, these vehicles will continue to spew diesel emissions into our air, contributing to air pollution for many years to come and adversely impact our citizensí health.


It is because of these dangers that I sponsoring Senate Bill No. 1759. The measure, now before the New Jersey Legislature, will reduce the amount of diesel particulates released into the air by requiring many diesel-powered vehicles registered in New Jersey to be retrofitted with a device that filters out the harmful particulate emissions.


Coupled with the diesel particulates bill is an initiative of the Department of Environmental Protection to limit the idling of school busses. Children, who spend the most time around school busses, are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of diesel emissions.


School districts across the state, including Piscataway, which was the first district to sign the anti-idling pledge, are committed to turning school bus engines off. Both the school bus initiative and the diesel particulates bill will reduce the amount of harmful diesel emissions in New Jerseyís air. With the help of these two measures, we can work to significantly improve our air quality, the health of our children, and the health of every resident of New Jersey by minimizing their exposure to harmful diesel emissions.