Health advocates in New Mexico are pushing the state to purchase zero-emission electric school buses as part of a strategy to reduce air pollution and asthma attacks. The group partnered with state health officials to host an asthma fair in May.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that keeps more kids from attending school than any other illness. That’s why the community group, “Juntos: Our Air, Our Water” and others want the state to buy zero-emission electric school buses with its share of settlement money ($18 million) from the Volkswagen scandal.

Liliana Castillo, communications director of Conservation Voters New Mexico, says diesel buses can emit toxins for 15 to 20 years or longer when state agencies don’t have the funds to replace older models.

“And we are calling on the New Mexico governor, Susana Martinez, and the Environment Department to alleviate diesel pollution by investing some of New Mexico’s $18 million Volkswagen scandal settlement funds in zero-emission electric school buses,” she explains.