Idle School Buses Pose Health Risk

With the recent classification of diesel fumes as a carcinogen, we are suddenly faced with a number of new health concerns. One of these has to do with diesel fumes from idling school buses.

school bus

The problem is that children breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than do adults. When, as is the case in most schools, that air is made up in large part of diesel fumes it means that they are, over the course of the many years they’ll be in school, being exposed to high levels of fumes that have been shown to cause cancer. That’s pretty frightening.

The reason that the air they are breathing has so much diesel in it is because of the number of school buses that idle in front of the school before school lets out. The fumes produced by all those school buses is seeping into the school and into the lungs of children and personnel in the building.

At least one state is trying to do something about this issue and many other states are hopefully going to be following suit. For more information about the problem and what can be done to fix it go to the Illinois Clean School Bus Program page.

Use the materials (posters, stickers, fact sheets, etc…) and take them to your kids’ school. Start local and see what kind of difference you can make statewide and even country wide.

Diesel Fuel can cause Cancer says WHO

In a press release this past Tuesday (June 12, 2012), the World Health Organization finally classified diesel engine exhaust as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The release came after a week-long meeting of international experts, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which took place in Lyon, France.

“There has been mounting concern about the cancer-causing potential of diesel exhaust, particularly based on findings in epidemiological studies of workers exposed in various settings. This was re-emphasized by the publication in March 2012 of the results of a large US National Cancer Institute/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study of occupational exposure to such emissions in underground miners, which showed an increased risk of death from lung cancer in exposed workers.”

The findings show that people exposed to diesel gas exhaust are at higher risk of lung cancer and possibly also bladder cancer than the rest of the population.

This new classification should pave the way for an increase in regulations and tighter emission standards around the world.

The summary of the evaluation is scheduled to appear online in The Lancet Oncology today, Friday June 15th 2012.

Protecting Against Diesel Hazards

You see it every day, that black diesel exhaust piping out of the trucks going down the road. And there’s plenty that you never do see. Diesel powers a good percentage of heavy equipment, buses, trucks, earth-movers, etc…

Interestingly enough, considering all the vehicle emissions testing and EPA standards, there presently is no federal occupational health standard for diesel, only a voluntary one of .2mg/.3mg.

Carbon monoxide, phenol, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and small particles of soot and ash are the principle components of Diesel.

Any and all of the above can cause health problems such as headaches, nausea, lung irritation, asthma and possibly heart disease. The long-term effects of exposure to high levels of diesel exhaust has yet to be studied in depth so it’s difficult to determine what other health problems might be a result of diesel exhaust exposure.

Protection against diesel exhaust

  • If you work in enclosed spaces where diesel equipment is giving off exhaust, you need to be aware that you are at an increased risk (tunnel workers, miners, truck drivers, longshoreman, etc…)
  • Proper engine maintenance is crucial in reducing diesel exhaust (in the same way as proper maintenance of gasoline engines reduces CO exhaust).
  • Make sure that areas that have diesel equipment in them are properly vented; run exhaust of diesel machinery to the outside of the buildings
  • If your vehicle has a “recycled air” option for ventilation use when following a diesel truck or bus or when going through a tunnel or other enclosed space that might have high levels of diesel exhaust.

Unfortunately, the average person is, to a high degree, at the mercy of others when it comes to the amount of diesel exhaust he or she inhales on a daily basis but you can complain to companies whose trucks give off huge clouds of diesel exhaust. If enough people complain, they might tune up the truck to reduce the exhaust.

For more information on diesel exhaust, check out the diesel exhaust page on the OSHA website.


Safety Tips to Jump-Start a Car

The weather has started to cool down and we are transitioning to winter. With it turning cold, maybe some morning you may go out to start your car and the battery is dead. Well then you need to get a jump start. Most people think they know how to use jumper cables on a car’s battery, but you’d be amazed how many people do it the wrong way. Follow these suggestions from the National Safety Council when getting your car back on the road.


How to Jump-Start a Gas-Powered Automobile

  • Check your owner’s manual before jump-starting your car or using it to jump-start another car. Some new cars had specific instructions or prohibit jump-starting.
  • If it is OK to jump-start, attach the jumper cables correctly.
    1. Clamp one cable to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery. Don’t let the positive cable touch anything metal other than the battery terminals.
    2. Connect the other end of the positive cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
    3. Connect one end of the negative (-) cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
    4. Connect the other end of the negative cable to metal on the engine block on the car with the dead battery. Don’t connect it to the dead battery, carburetor, fuel lines or moving parts.

    1. Stand back and start the car with the good battery.
    2. Start the stalled car.
    3. Remove the cables in reverse order.

How to Jump-Start a Diesel-Powered Automobile

Even though diesel-powered vehicles can have dual batteries or one oversized battery, it’s possible to jump-start a diesel from the battery on a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. If your diesel won’t start due to a dead battery, follow the steps here to jump it safely.

To avoid confusion, these instructions call the vehicle with the dead battery the disabled vehicle and the one you’re jumping the start from the source vehicle. Follow these steps to jump-start a dead diesel battery:

Make sure that both vehicles are in Park or Neutral with the parking brakes on.

1.    Turn on the heater on the disabled diesel vehicle.

This protects the electrical system from surges in voltage.

2.    Make sure that the lights and other electrical accessories on the disabled diesel vehicle are off.

A vehicle with dual batteries usually has thicker cables on one of the batteries. Attach the jumper cables to the battery that has thicker cables. If either vehicle has dual batteries with cables of the same thickness, use either battery for the jump. If a vehicle has only one battery, just be sure to hook the cables up in the proper order.

3.    Connect the clamp on one of the jumper cables to the positive terminal of the disabled vehicle’s battery.

The positive terminal should have a (+) or a red cover on it.

4.    Connect the other end of the same jumper cable to the positive terminal of the source vehicle.

5.    Connect one end of the other jumper cable to the negative terminal (-) of the source vehicle.

6.    Connect the other end of that jumper cable to an unpainted, metallic part of the disabled vehicle.

Use the bracket that keeps the hood up, but any such part will do as long as it’s not near the battery, belts, or any other moving parts of the engine.

7.    Start the engine on the source vehicle.

8.    Start the engine on the disabled vehicle.

Let both engines run for a minute or two, more if the battery has been dead for a long time.

9.    Turn off the engine of the source vehicle.

Leave the disabled vehicle’s engine running.

10.  Remove the cable from the unpainted metal part of the disabled vehicle.

11.  Disconnect the cable from the positive terminals of both vehicles.

12.  Disconnect the cable from the negative terminal of the source vehicle.

13.  Drive the disabled vehicle around for at least 15 minutes to ensure that the battery is fully charged.

If you justify your have a dead diesel vehicle and the battery dies the next time you try to start the car, you probably need a new battery. Be sure to get the proper one for your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

Road safety tip: Be careful when jump-starting from a hybrid car

While driving a new hybrid car and a conventional vehicle are similar experiences, important difference still exist. Maintenance, too, can be more complicated, experts say.

In winter weather, both hybrids and regular cars can potentially lose battery charge and become impossible to start normally. Drivers can generally jump-start drained hybrids from other cars. However, trying to jump a drained conventional car from a hybrid can be extremely dangerous.

Hybrid cars generally use battery systems far more powerful than those of a regular vehicle, given their need to power a large electric motor in addition to the rest of a car’s usual devices. This can apply excessive power to a conventional car’s circuits, and prove to be quite unsafe if a motorist accidentally touches a live jumper cable to a metal surface.


Jump-starting a hybrid car is similar to jump-starting a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Again  Check your owner’s manual before jump-starting your car or using it to jump-start another car. Some new cars had specific instructions or prohibit jump-starting.

Whenever you jump-start a hybrid, be sure to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s jump-start procedures. They can be found in the owner’s/operator’s manual, usually located in the vehicle’s glove box. And if you have any questions about the procedure, call in a professional. You don’t want to be poking around under the hood or in the high-voltage traction motor battery compartment unless you’re a trained and qualified technician. If a part says “Don’t Touch” or “Don’t Take This Apart,” then don’t touch it or take it apart. There may be 500 volts inside.

Step 1

Turn off both cars. Be sour to turn off something that races on electricity as well such as the radio, GPS and air conditioning. The sudden rise of power could be bad these devices.

Step 2

Pull the cap release lever on both cars. Be sour to pedestal bridge bearing open each one hood with the bolt under the cap to to ensure they stay up while you are working.

Step 3

Connect one end of the pullover cables to the positive Limit on the hybrid vehicle. Attach the other end of the same Colored cable to the positive Limit of the operation car.

Step 4

Clamp the end of the other pullover cable to the negative Limit of the operation car. On a Prius, To connect them to remain end on an unpainted metal bandage on the car. For a Honda, there is a to melt strap, generally located towards the front of the engine compartment. Control the owner’s handbook if you’re Dubious To place the strap.

Step 5

Start the operation vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. Now beginning your hybrid car.

Step 6

Remove the cables, carefully, in the opposed order you connected them.


  • Wear a pair of splash-proof, polycarbonate goggles with the designation Z-87 on the frame. This certifies that your goggles are meant for activities such as automotive repair.
  • Batteries contain sulfuric acid, which gives off flammable and explosive gas when a battery is charged or jump-started. Never smoke or operate anything that may cause a spark when working on a battery.
  • Whenever you change the oil, take time to check your battery for damage such as cracks, corrosive materials and loose wires.
  • Make sure you have a pair of jumper cables that are free of rust and corrosion and have no exposed wires. (Never use electrical tape to cover exposed wires.)
  • Make sure you buy a battery that is recommended in your car owner’s manual.
  • Never throw an automobile battery in a garbage dumpster or leave it in a parking lot, especially if it is cracked or damaged. Take it to a service station and have it disposed of properly.
  • Never jump-start your battery if your car’s fluids are frozen.
  • When buying a new battery, make sure that its terminals are sturdy and large enough to allow the clamps of a pair of jumper cables to attach easily when jump-starting.
  • Always call a professional if you think there might be trouble you can’t handle, or you can’t remember how to jump-start a vehicle.
  • Prevent Blindness America offers a battery safety sticker that lists the correct steps to take when jump-starting a dead battery. To get one, call 1-800-331-2020.  Or go to

When using a portable battery booster, the process is much the same.

Connect the positive clamp of the booster cable to the positive clamp of the dead battery. Then connect the negative cable to the engine block or other grounded metal away from the battery.

The National Safety Council (NSC) offers an additional suggestion: if you are buying jumper cables or a portable battery booster, buy the best quality you can afford. Look for well-insulated clamps and 8-gauge wire. (Note: the lower the wire gauge number, the heavier the gauge.) Under the heavy electrical load of boost starting, lightweight cables may not be able to deliver enough current to start some engines. In fact, they have been known to melt in the user’s hand.

If your battery is three-years old or older and you haven’t had it checked, it’s a good preventive measure to do so, suggests the NSC. A battery’s power is reduced as the temperature drops. And that’s when the engine’s starting demands are greatest.

Information provided by the National Safety Council and Prevent Blindness. Org.

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of  Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau