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Fact Sheet: Diesel Clean Up

Ohio Environmental Council, March 26, 2013

The Problem

The exhaust rolling out from that diesel engine in front of you not only looks and smells bad, it is also bad for your health.

Diesel engines are a source of many different dangerous air pollutants which affect human health and our community’s ability to meet and maintain federal Clean Air Act standards.

Particulate pollution which is also known as soot, can penetrate deep in the lungs and trigger breathing ailments and heart attacks.

Health officials link diesel emissions to serious health effects including a compromised immune system, aggravated asthma and allergy symptoms, heart and lung disease, cancer and even preventable deaths.

Federal rules enacted in 2007 require newly manufactured on-road diesel engines to be much cleaner; however, the aging vehicles currently on the road will continue to pollute our air for decades.

As one of the Midwest’s top environmental advocacy organizations, the Ohio Environmental Council has developed innovative projects and pragmatic policy strategies to improve air quality by reducing pollution from Ohio’s fleet of old, dirty diesel vehicles.

Diesel Health Impacts

  • Aggravated asthma & allergy symptoms
  • Heart & lung disease
  • Cancer
  • Preventable death

Environmental Impacts

  • Crop & forest damage
  • Acid rain
  • Waterways overwhelmed by nutrients
  • Smog
  • Climate change

People Most at Risk

  • Children
  • Asthmatics
  • The elderly
  • People with existing respiratory problems
  • Occupationally exposed workers, such as police officers, construction workers, etc.


Thanks to our Clean Air Solutions Campaign, thousands of children and adults are breathing a little easier.

The OEC worked with school districts and cities to develop clean-up plans and has secured more than $3 million in funding to retrofit or replace more than 300 school buses and other diesel vehicles with state-of-the-art emission controls.

Diesel particulate filters reduce emissions by up to 95%.

The OEC also works with fleets to implement the “6R’s” of diesel clean up:

Refuel with cleaner fuels

Replace older vehicles

Repower older engines

Reduce idling

Repair existing engines

Retrofit with emission controls

Education & Outreach

The OEC has spoken with dozens of community groups throughout Ohio about the dangers of diesel emissions and ozone pollution.

The OEC empowers residents by providing tools in which they can reduce their exposure to harmful pollution while reducing their own pollution footprint.

Policy Leadership

Over the years, the OEC has:

  • Worked closely with industry and elected officials to craft the Diesel Emission Reduction Act o f 2005.
  • Supported the creation of the Ohio Diesel Emission Reduction Grant program.
  • Worked for funding of state and federal grants to cleanup diesel exhaust.
  • Supported creation of the Ohio EPA Clean Diesel School Bus Retrofit Program.
  • Worked with allies to urge Cleveland and other northeast Ohio cities to adopte fuel conservation ordinances.
  • Promote clean construction provisions to cities, hospitals, and universities.
  • Commented on Clean Air Act


The Ohio Environmental Council values its partnerships with various groups in the fight to clean up dirty diesel engines.  The OEC is part of the Ohio Clean Diesel Coalition, which is comprised of environmental and health groups, metropolitan planning organizations, chambers of commerce, and industry.

The OEC aided in the creation of, and funding for, the Ohio Diesel Emission Reduction Grant Program which is administered by the Ohio EPA.  This grant program covers retrofit equipment, idle reduction technologies, replacements, and equipment repowers.

The Ohio Environmental Counci is also:

  • part of the national campaign to clean up diesel engine pollution organized by the Clean Air Task Force.
  • piloting a diesel particulate filter on a City of Columbus-owned wheel loader
  • a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5’s MidwestClean Diesel Initiative.
  • a partner in Clean Fuels Ohio’s Ohio Green Fleets Program, which recognizes fleets that have cleaned up and encourages other fleets to take&nbspsteps to green their fleet.
  • working with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to encourage city fleets to go green.
  • urging state and federal governments, universities, and hospitals to adopt “clean” language in construction contracts.
  • partnering with Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) clinics to educate participants on air quality and what they can do to reduce their exposure to ozone and soot pollution.
  • partnering with the Ohio Hispanic Coalition on air quality outreach.

The Future

The Ohio Environmental Council is part of the National Diesel Cleanup Campaign, comprised of more than 300 group supporters. The goal of the campaign is to reduce direct fine particulate matter emissions by 40% by  2012, 55% by 2015, and 70% by 2020. This would save tens of thousands of lives across the U.S.

Currently the OEC is reaching out to hospitals and universities to work with them in developing clean construction provisions.

The Ohio Environmental Council also works to ensure there are diesel clean up grant funds available to Ohio fleets at both the state and national levels.