Old diesel engines kill more than 20,000 Americans a year

Particulate pollution generated by old diesel engines is killing more people per year than drunk driving, said a report released yesterday. Using data and methodologies from the U.S. EPA, the Clean Air Task Force and a coalition of public health groups found that more than 20,000 Americans — particularly those in urban areas near bus stops, highways, truck stops, or construction sites — die, and more than 400,000 visit the emergency room, each year after breathing in tiny particles of diesel exhaust. While the EPA has mandated the phase-in of cleaner diesel engines for highway vehicles and heavy equipment starting in 2007, it has not addressed the 13 million such engines already in use, which have a lifespan of some 30 years. The groups behind the report recommended requiring the upgrading of current engines and the use of cleaner-burning fuel. “We do not need to wait,” wrote Howard Frumkin of Emory University in the report’s foreword. “Technology is available today that can reduce particulate matter emissions 90 percent.” Industry groups, you’ll be shocked to hear, decried the study.