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Cleaning Up the Garbage Trucks

Posted: April 30, 2010
Buffalo State retrofitted the last of its garbage trucks earlier this month with special EPA-approved exhaust control devices to reduce particulate and hydrocarbon emissions, thereby improving air quality on campus.

John P. Bleech, a chemical engineer, is the college’s environmental programs manager, part of  Environmental Health and Safety. He is responsible for overseeing campus compliance with  applicable environmental regulations on campus, including those set forth by the federal EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) established a   state program to reduce emissions from existing diesel engines through clean diesel retrofits.

 “It’s not a simple process,” said Bleech. “First, we install special sensors and data loggers on the exhaust systems of the vehicles to record exhaust-gas temperatures.” The temperature  determines the type of device that can be used. Then the appropriate device is selected from an EPA-approved list. A backhoe is presently being evaluated for retrofitting.

The college’s garbage trucks collect trash daily from dumpsters located around campus, so the impact is felt everywhere. An unexpected benefit of the exhaust control devices is that they have made the trucks less noisy, according to Bleech. But the real benefit is the improved air quality, not just outside on campus, but also in the college’s buildings. “Reducing particulate and hydrocarbon emissions is especially important for people with respiratory disorders, such as asthma,” said Bleech.
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