Doug Neidigh
OCSS Director
Office: (417) 873-7641

Clean Diesel Grant Programs

OCSS works closely with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to improve air quality in southwest Missouri. As a result of this partnership, DNR and OCSS have been able to secure funding authorized by the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

DERA, which was passed with bi-partisan support in 2005, established a voluntary national and state-level grant and loan program to reduce diesel emissions. More specifically, it provides resources for National Clean Diesel Programs through both state-allocation funding and nationally competitive grant programs. Since 2008, DNR and OCSS have been able to bring over $2 million of this Clean Diesel funding to public and private fleet owners in southwest Missouri.

Below you can find information about:
Public Health and Environmental Impacts of Diesel Emissions
Past Grant Programs
Projects Currently Underway
Projects Accepting Applications for Funding

Why is it Important to Reduce Diesel Emissions?
Studies by the EPA and private researchers have revealed both public health and environmental impacts related to diesel emissions. Diesel exhaust contains a range of pollutants, either taken alone or in combination with other substances, that impair our air quality. Common diesel exhaust pollutants of concern include:

  • Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Volatile Organic Compounds/Hydrocarbons
  • Hazardous Air Pollutants

Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)

Fine particles consist of a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. While diesel exhaust consist of both coarse and fine particles, over 90% of diesel particulate matter can be classified as PM2.5. Due to their microscopic size, PM2.5 can deposit deep in the lungs, which contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular complications. In addition, large concentrations of PM2.5 can contribute to poor visibility and haze.

Numerous scientific studies continually provide a definitive link between PM2.5 and a range of significant public health problems, including:

  • Asthma and chronic bronchitis
  • Acute respiratory symptoms, like coughing and tightness in the chest
  • Decreased lung function
  • Heart attacks
  • Premature death in people with lung and/or heart disease

Such public health issues contribute to increases in emergency room visits, work/school absences, and admissions to hospitals. In addition, long-term exposure to high concentrations of PM2.5 can make existing conditions more severe and can even lead to a reduction in life expectancy. High levels of PM2.5 are of particular concern for groups deemed highly susceptible. These include children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or emphysema.

In addition to the public health impacts associated with PM2.5, there are also environmental impacts that cause concern. Fine particulates tend to remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can travel large distances. When the particles finally do settle to the surface, they can contribute to property damage, acidification of lakes/streams, and harm plant and animal life. In addition, high concentrations of PM2.5 can produce a haze, which has been known to reduce visibility by over 70% from naturally occurring conditions.

Nitrogen Oxides

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) result as a by-product of high temperature fuel combustion. They are highly reactive gases, which in most cases are colorless and odorless. Nitrogen dioxide, however, may combine with particulate matter to create a reddish-brown haze often found above heavily urbanized areas. In addition, when nitrogen dioxide reacts with other atmospheric gases and sunlight it creates ground-level ozone.

Health issues found to be related to NOx emissions, include:

  • Irritation of the respiratory systems, including coughing and scratchy throat
  • Reduce lung function
  • Heighten sensitivity to allergens, which can contribute to asthma attacks
  • Inflammation of the lung lining

Increased levels of NOx and/or ozone create particular problems for both children and those suffering from respiratory diseases.

Beyond health concerns, NOx also creates environmental impacts. NOx gases serve as a main contributor to acid rain, which damages water sources and plant life. In addition, NOx gases can permeate water bodies. When nitrogen levels in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving bodies of water rise to excessive levels it can greatly impair water quality through a process known as eutrophication. During this process, nitrogen causes an increase in the growth of algae and weeds. The growth and subsequent decomposition of this plant life results in a decrease in dissolved oxygen levels in the water. This reduction in dissolved oxygen then stresses, and even kills, fish and other aquatic life.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous gas created as a result of incomplete fuel combustion. Concentrations of CO can be particularly high in areas of heavy traffic congestion, and are typically highest in the winter months, when vehicles burn fuel less efficiently.

From a health perspective, CO enters our bloodstream through the lungs and binds to our hemoglobin. As a result, the amount of oxygen carried to our tissues, organs, and central nervous system decreases. People who suffer from cardiovascular disease tend to experience the highest threat from CO exposure. In addition, those inflicted with angina, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, congestive heart failure, and anemia also experience elevated risks to CO. Young children and developing fetuses are also highly susceptible. When healthy individuals experience high concentrations of CO, they may experience headaches and affects to their dexterity, mental alertness, and vision.

Environmentally, CO can contribute to ground-level ozone, whose impacts have previously been highlighted. In addition, high concentrations of CO can result in wildlife experiencing a decrease in the oxygen supply to their tissues, organs, and central nervous system.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) results from the combustion of fossil fuels. At high concentrations it can cause health problems and it is considered one of the more pervasive greenhouse gases. CO2 remains in the atmosphere until it is absorbed by plants and trees as part of the naturally occurring biological carbon cycle.

While CO2 occurs naturally within humans, at high levels it can cause health complications. Studies have indicated higher concentrations of CO2 can impair the respiratory and central nervous systems. In addition, the CO2 lowers the available oxygen in the air, and can also result in symptoms of oxygen deficiency, much like those described with CO.

Environmentally, CO2 has been classified as a greenhouse gas. Studies indicated the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to climate change. Climate change affects ecosystems, weather patterns, air quality, sea levels, and even agriculture.

Volatile Organic Compounds/Hydrocarbons

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), of which hydrocarbons are a subset, are produced from a variety of sources, including both human activities and natural processes. One source of hydrocarbon pollution is the release of exhaust that contains unburned or partially burned hydrocarbon-based fuel, such as diesel fuel. Like other diesel emission pollutants, VOCs pose both public health and environmental threats.

Hydrocarbons pose health hazards due to their own toxicity, as well as their role in forming ground-level ozone. Hydrocarbons themselves may increase the risk of cancer and other negative health effects. Their role in ozone formation, however, creates the most pervasive threat. Complications associated with ground-level ozone include respiratory irritation, reduced lung function, heightened sensitivity to allergens, and inflammation of the lung lining. As is the case with most other air pollutants, these effects pose a greater risk to the young and those with respiratory conditions.

Environmentally, hydrocarbons contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog.

Hazardous Air Pollutants

Diesel exhaust contains 40 substances that the EPA considers to be toxic air pollutants. These toxins tend to be highly transportable; traveling long distances and impacting air quality in areas far removed from the source. Like other diesel emissions, these toxins pose both environmental and health concerns.

Of the 40 identified toxic substances in diesel exhaust, 15 are classified as probable or known human carcinogens when concentrations and exposure are high enough. In addition, long-term exposure to them may also lead to damages to the respiratory, reproductive, and/or nervous systems. Short-term exposure to some of these pollutants may contribute to eye irritation, nausea, and difficulty in breathing. The risk associated with these toxins depend greatly on the concentration, duration of exposure, frequency of exposure, general health, level of toxicity, and the level of resistance/susceptibility.

Environmentally, these air toxins may be absorbed by water, soils, or animals and essentially work their way up the food chain. In addition, animals may experience similar health effects as humans when exposed to these chemicals in sufficient quantities over time.

For more information on the pollutants present in diesel emissions and their public health and environmental impacts, the following websites provide great reference.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
EPA Health Effects Notebook for Hazardous Pollutants