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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 is awarding a $1.4 million Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant to the University of Puerto Rico – Medical Sciences Campus. The grant will provide funding to replace 15 old heavy duty drayage trucks.

The university will also develop seminars for diesel vehicle owners and the general public in Puerto Rico to raise awareness about the harmful environmental impacts of diesel emissions, including idling, and resources available to help reduce diesel emissions.

“It is particularly important that we are making this grant announcement to reduce diesel emissions during Asthma Awareness Month,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Puerto Rico has high asthma rates. This grant will be a great step toward improving public health and air quality in the areas surrounding the Port of San Juan.”

“We are delighted to be a grant recipient and continue our important work of reducing diesel emissions in Puerto Rico,” said Dr. Aluisio Pimenta, Medical Sciences professor. “Our ultimate goal is to reduce asthma rates and improve overall health for Puerto Ricans.”

“Puerto Rico is one of the top U.S. jurisdictions with high prevalence of asthma. According to the Puerto Rico Department of Health, 15.5% of children suffer from this condition along with12.2% of adults on the Island. That is why we must continue to take every step and find new ways to protect the health and wellbeing of our people,” said Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon. “This grant will build on the [UPR's] work to reduce harmful diesel emissions and better the quality of life for all children and adults.”

The activities of this grant will take place in the metropolitan area of San Juan. Specifically, the grant will be targeted to areas that are particularly affected by the transportation of goods by drayage trucks going to and from the Port of San Juan. This project will replace trucks with engine model years from 1996-2006 with 2013 or newer trucks. The work for this grant will begin immediately and continue through the Spring of 2022.

It is estimated that this grant will reduce particulate matter emissions by 3.2 tons and nitrogen oxide emissions by 43.3 tons for the lifetime of the vehicles. This is the fourth DERA grant that EPA has awarded to the Medical Sciences Campus. In total, EPA has awarded close to $5 million for the replacement of 57 trucks and the retrofitting of 58 trucks, resulting in an estimated total particulate matter emissions reduction of 40.7 tons, and a total nitrogen oxide emissions reduction of 500.1 tons.

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