Using Clean Fuels in Buses Lessens School Absences

June 20, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. fuel / ˈfyu əl / (n.) – a substance used to produce heat or power
Example: The bus did not have enough fuel so it was forced to stop.

2. absence / ˈæb səns / (n.) – the condition of not being present
Example: Jordan has many absences in school because he is always sick.

3. asthma / ˈæz mə / (n.) – a respiratory disease that makes it difficult to breathe
Example: Victoria’s asthma prevented her from attending her class.

4. exhaust / ɪgˈzɔst / (n.) – the smoke or gas released by an engine
Example: Car exhaust can cause air pollution.

5. irritation / ˌɪr ɪˈteɪ ʃən / (n.) – an inflammatory reaction in a body part that got exposed to something
Example: The dust caused irritation in his eye.


Read the text below.
Using clean fuels in buses could lessen the number of school absences among students, a recent study revealed.

The study from the University of Michigan [MISH-i-guh n] and the University of Washington involved 275 elementary students from Washington. All of the students took the bus to and from school. From 2005 to 2009, the researchers measured the air pollution that 188 school buses produced during 597 trips. During this period, school buses in Washington began using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and up-to-date pollution control measures on their buses.

Results showed that using cleaner fuels decreased the number of student absences by 8%. Better emission control measures also led to a 6% drop in student absences. Overall, the study found that 14 million student absences each year can be prevented by using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in buses. 

The researchers mentioned that these positive results stemmed from using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. This type of fuel lessened the signs of lung inflammation among all 275 students by 16%. Among the students with asthma, 20% to 31% showed improvement.

The ultra-low sulfur diesel is 97% cleaner because it has less sulfur content than the standard diesel. Sulfur, which is a natural part of crude oil, produces the particulates or soot found in diesel. Soot, in turn, causes the black exhaust fumes that pollute the air.

According to the fact sheet of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, diesel exhaust has a number of immediate health effects. These conditions include irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. A person exposed to diesel exhaust can also experience cough, headache, lightheadedness, and nausea [NAW-zee-uh].

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think buses in your country should also use cleaner fuels? Why or why not?
·         What do you think can be the other advantages of using cleaner fuels?

Discussion B

·         How else can student absences be lessened?
·         In your opinion, what are the effects of frequent absences on students’ performance in school?

June 20, 2015