A shift to EVs and clean power could save almost 90,000 American lives by 2050: study

Credit: Tesla Inc.

A report from the American Lung Association has suggested that if the United States were to eliminate gas-guzzling vehicles from its car lots by 2035 and replace them with zero-emissions vehicles, the nation could see a decrease of 89,300 premature deaths by 2050. This is, at least, if the transition to electric vehicles also involved greater reliance on clean electricity from sources such as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear. 

As per a report titled “Driving to Clean Air: Health Benefits of Zero-Emission Cars and Electricity,” the adoption of cleaner vehicles and a cleaner power supply could lead to numerous positive outcomes in the US. These include a reduction of 2.2 million asthma attacks, 10.7 million fewer workdays lost, and an estimated $978 billion in public health benefits. That’s a compelling incentive for the shift to sustainable transportation. 

William Barrett, the report’s author and the national senior director for clean air advocacy at the American Lung Association, noted that, “There are very clear benefits of zero-emission technologies.”

Transportation is a notable source of air pollution in the US, contributing significantly to carbon emissions that drive the climate crisis, as per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as noted in a CNN report. Exposure to any form of pollution also poses a considerable health risk, as it increases the likelihood of premature death as well as the development of conditions such as asthma, heart problems, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease. 

Disturbingly enough, approximately 120 million individuals in the US reside in areas with unhealthy air, as reported by the American Lung Association in a recent publication. It should also be noted that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by this health hazard. Studies have indicated that such communities tend to reside in closer proximity to major sources of air pollution, such as highways and power plants.

“This transition to zero-emission technologies is critical as a whole but especially critical in making sure that we’re targeting policies and investments and incentive programs so that all communities can take advantage of these health benefits and more healthier transportation choices,” Barrett said. 

Dr. Jason West, an expert in pollution research and its impact on public health and a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, shared his thoughts on the matter. 

“There are huge health benefits to be gained by switching broadly to electric vehicles. The other part of the report says that this positive health result comes when it is coupled with non-combustion electricity generation. So that’s an important part, too. It’s not just switching to electric vehicles but providing the extra electricity needed for those electric vehicles. So that would be renewables, wind and solar or possibly nuclear,” West said.

The American Lung Association’s report, “Driving to Clean Air: Health Benefits of Zero-Emission Cars and Electricity,” can be viewed below.

Ala Driving to Clean Air Report by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

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A shift to EVs and clean power could save almost 90,000 American lives by 2050: study
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