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School buses don’t have to be toxic

School buses can be hazardous to your children’s health.

Most school buses, including New Mexico’s, are powered with diesel. The diesel fumes contain enough toxic substances to cause an identifiable health hazard to children (and others, especially the drivers) who are regularly exposed to the fumes.

Documentation is ample. Diesel exhaust has more than 40 toxic air contaminants, including nitrogen oxides and known or suspected cancer-causing substances, such as benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde.

Diesel soot from school buses has also been associated with reduced lung function and increased incidences of pneumonia in children, according to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. And New Mexico has a respiratory disease problem.

“Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in New Mexico, with an estimated 150,000 adults and 47,000 children currently having the disease,” said a report from the state Health Department. It notes that asthma contributes to reduced quality of life and health care costs.