In reference to the Oct. 30 Tribune article by Dr. Mark Reps, "Are school bus rides safe?" is riding in a car safe? Is riding in an airplane safe? Is riding on Amtrak safe?

There are several factors to be taken into account in order to answer any of those questions. Is the driver/pilot sober? Have the tracks been checked recently?

Dr. Reps discussed the smell of the diesel exhaust fumes and the possibility that the fumes could be dangerous according to some other doctor. The few seconds that I smell diesel fumes from the railroad yard that is about one-quarter mile from me don't seem to have any effect on me. If I were to walk by all the idling buses and stick my nose up the exhaust pipe, I'm sure it would be dangerous. Yes, diesel exhaust could be very deadly if the vehicle is in a closed building and a person is in that building, just like the fumes from a gasoline burning automotive. Some people have chosen to end their life by starting their car, closing the garage doors and sitting in the vehicle with the windows wide open.

Nowadays, the buses are air-conditioned and the windows are closed. No outside fumes or contaminants can get into the bus.

When I attended Spring Valley School 1947 to 1957 (now Kingsland), most of my time was on a bus. The roads were gravel. The buses were air-conditioned by nature (windows wide open). Depending upon the wind direction and traffic on the road, one could breathe in many particles of gravel dust and gasoline fumes. I rode the bus to and from school for about six years. I am now in my mid-70s and still going. At one time I was on the bus for an hour (plus a few minutes) when I was going home. On another farm, I was on the bus for about 15 minutes before getting off.

As a non-medical person, my opinion is that we humans bring about a lot of our illnesses. We have been told what will happen by "authorities" and we believe it. We let the "authorities" control our minds. I say cut out the "authorities" and listen to about 30 percent of what they say; tell your mind not to believe the other 70 percent. You should be able to remain healthy. The one thing that comes to mind regarding this subject is that the "authorities" said eggs were bad for you; in about three years, the "authorities" reversed their opinions.

The "authorities" are supposed to be the experts. My definition of an expert is: "In mathematics, X is an unknown quantity. In plumbing, a spurt is a drip of water. Therefore, an expert is an unknown drip."

Dale Schunke

Tucson, Ariz.