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Report Finds New York Has Worst Diesel Pollution in U.S.

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – A study released Tuesday shows New York has the worst diesel pollution in the nation.

A report by the American Lung Association of New York State claims diesel pollution from trucks, buses, and construction equipment contribute to an estimated 2,300 deaths a year in New York. The report blames diesel pollution for almost 3,700 annual heart attacks in New York and more than 51,000 asthma attacks.

Lung Association Vice President Peter Iwanowicz says with the lifespan of a typical diesel engine lasting 30 years, action is needed to reduce their emissions.

"We should be engaged in retrofitting existing vehicles, installing sophisticated catalytic converters and other filtering devices to significantly reduce the emissions from vehicles that are on the road today," Iwanowicz said.

Iwanowicz says the Lung Association also supports retiring all school buses that are more than ten years old.

"We think that in many cases in New York State, there are huge numbers of school buses transporting our children that are too old for these retrofits," Iwanowicz said. "In some instances, we've seen private contractors who have 60 percent of their fleet that's too old. Those buses are really the dirtiest of the dirty. They should be retired."

A spokesman for a diesel industry trade group says the Lung Association is overstating the risk from diesel pollution. Allan Schaeffer of the Washington-based Diesel Technology Forum said his industry is getting cleaner, faster. Schaeffer says it takes eight modern tractor trailer engines to produce the amount of pollution generated by one such engine from 12 years ago.