Opinion: Children With Asthma Breathe Easier With Electric School Buses

Op-ed by Dr. Gerri Cannon-Smith
Published in Mississippi Free Press | December 30, 2022

Take a deep breath. For the one in 10 Mississippi schoolchildren who suffer from asthma, that’s not always an easy thing to do. But new federal funding for electric school buses could help them breathe easier—if our school districts choose to accept it.

Asthma, the most common chronic health condition in children, causes “flare-ups” of wheezing and difficulty breathing. Students with asthma are absent from school more than twice as often as their classmates, due to doctors/clinic visits, trips to the emergency department and hospitalizations.

One of the best ways to prevent asthma flare-ups is to avoid triggers such as pollen, dust, cigarette smoke and air pollution. And the buses that carry kids to and from school are a major source of the latter. The vast majority of school buses (95%) are powered by diesel engines that spew pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. These pollutants are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems as well as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Children who ride school buses are especially vulnerable. Breathing in diesel exhaust from idling buses or riding inside older, poorly ventilated buses can trigger…..READ FULL ARTICLE>


Dr. Gerri A. Cannon-Smith, has more than 30 years of experience as a pediatrician, public health practitioner, clinical administrator, PH/Disparity scholar and public health faculty. Keenly aware of the impact of social determinants of health, access inequities, and environmental influences, her career has focused on health equity, specifically, as it relates to pediatric health disparities, chronic pediatric conditions (asthma and obesity), and precursors of chronic conditions. She currently works as PH/Pediatric Consultant at Innovative Health Strategies, LLC, and is a 2022 Climate & Health Equity Fellow. She also chairs Mississippi Health Professionals for Climate and Health Equity.