This year, during Latinx Heritage Month, join us in calling for school districts to address historic environmental injustices by investing in electric school buses.Guest Blog | October 12, 2022
Latinx Heritage Month began on September 15 and ends on October 15. This guest blog was written by Carolina Chacon, the coalition manager of the Alliance for Electric School Buses of which the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is proudly a member. This year, join us in calling for school districts to address historic environmental injustices by investing in electric school buses.
Our children deserve a clean ride to school. Every school day, 20 million U.S. children ride on nearly 500,000 school buses, 95% of which run on diesel. Diesel exhaust – which can reach children when buses or idling or driving – produces toxins that are up to 12 times more polluting than what children would encounter riding to school on a regular car. Children, whose lungs and brains are still developing, are particularly vulnerable to this pollution. Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen that can shorten lifespans and lead to heart and lung diseases and is especially linked to asthma, which before the pandemic was the #1 cause of school absences. Additionally, diesel pollution has been linked to lower test scores and worse academic performance.
For Latinx children, riding in diesel school buses is particularly harmful. Latinx children, regardless of their family’s income, are more likely to have asthma than their white peers. One in 12 Latinx children currently suffers from asthma, and being exposed to diesel pollution can worsen asthma attacks. This can have fatal consequences, as Latinx children are 40% more likely to die from asthma. Latinx families are also less likely to have access to quality, affordable health care, which can delay children getting the medications they need to treat their respiratory illness. This is on top of Latinx children already being more likely to live in areas with unhealthy air and greater exposure to particulate pollution from diesel buses and trucks.
Fortunately, we have a solution. By switching to electric school buses, children can breathe cleaner air and lead healthier lives. Electric school buses produce ZERO tailpipe emissions and are quieter and more pleasant to ride, without noxious fumes or odors. They can also save school districts money on maintenance and operations, money that can be put back into schools’ budgets. Deploying electric school buses in communities of color breathing the dirtiest air will help address historic environmental injustices that cause Latinx children to breathe dirtier air.
By riding to school in diesel school buses, Latinx children are more likely to be exposed to harmful tailpipe pollution that can worsen respiratory illnesses like asthma and even impact academic performance. Latinx children are already 40% more likely to die from asthma than their white peers. Latinx families are also 165% likely to live in areas with unhealthy air and near sources of pollution, and often lack access to quality, affordable health care. Diesel school buses are making these problems worse.
Our children deserve to breathe clean air. It’s time to transition the U.S. school bus fleet to zero-tailpipe-emission, electric school buses – the cleanest and safest option for all of our kids. This #LatinxHeritageMonth, join us in calling for school districts to provide a #CleanRide4Kids by investing in electric school buses.
*Please note that the U.S. federal government uses the term “Hispanic.” We use “Latinx” as it is more inclusive of Latin Americans in the United States.
About the Alliance for Electric School Buses
The mission of the Alliance for Electric School Buses is to electrify the nation’s school bus fleet and prioritize the highest-need school districts in the most polluted areas — which, as data shows, are proportionately low-income communities and communities of color — while creating good-paying careers in manufacturing and deployment.