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Published on October 29th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Study: $1.30 In Unpaid Health & Societal Costs For Every Gallon Of Gasoline Sold In US

October 29th, 2016 by  

While consumer prices for gasoline in the US are currently rather low, these prices don’t account for the health and societal costs associated with gasoline use. A new study from the American Lung Association in California exploring the environmental impact of gasoline use has attempted to quantify these costs.

According to the new study, the unaccounted for health and societal costs of burning a gallon of gasoline total $1.30. What that means is that if these costs were to be accounted for in the price of gasoline, then pricing would be at least $1.30/gallon higher than it is now, going by the study’s findings.

The study also notes that if California’s entire active vehicle fleet was to be converted to so-called zero-emissions vehicles than the state would save around $7.5 billion in health and societal costs. This figure relates to around $3.8 billion in health costs, around $2.3 billion in energy-security cost savings, and $1.5 billion in savings from reduced climate change damage.

Such a change would also result in the avoidance of more than 400 premature deaths a year, 9,000 missed school days, and 29,000 missed work days. As a reminder, these are the potential savings just for California.

Here’s an overview of the study findings:

When fully implemented across the fleet, advanced standards recommended by the American Lung Association in California’s Road to Clean Air were found to:

* reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by 45–52%
* reduce smog-forming emissions by 75–85%
* reduce petroleum consumption by 38–49%
* reduce premature deaths and illnesses by 65– 75%

Health Damages Avoided Annually by Road to Clean Air Recommendations:

* 400–420 premature deaths avoided
* 420–440 respiratory ER visits and cardiac/respiratory hospitalizations avoided
* 8,075–8,440 asthma attacks and lower respiratory symptoms avoided
* 181,000–190,000 acute and upper respiratory symptoms avoided
* 390–405 heart attacks avoided
* 28,100–29,300 work loss days avoided
* 8,800–9,500 missed school days avoided

Total Costs Avoided Annually by Road to Clean Air Recommendations:

* $7.2–8.1 billion in annual health, global warming and societal costs avoided
* $3.7–3.9 billion in health damages avoided
* $1.4–1.6 billion in climate damages avoided
* $110–120 million in environmental damages avoided
* $2.0–2.6 billion in energy security costs avoided

Tons Per Day of Emissions Avoided by Road to Clean Air Recommendations:

* 122,000–139,000 tons per day of greenhouse gases
* 175–189 tons per day of smog-forming gases
* 90–99 tons per day of VOC
* 85–90 tons per day of NOx
* 14–15 tons per day of PM2.5

This report supplements another reported just published by the American Lung Association — Clean Air Future: Health and Climate of Zero Emissions Vehicles — which found that the annual health & climate change costs in just 10 US states totals $37 billion. The total in California came to $15 billion in 2015.


Image by James Heilman, MD (some rights reserved)

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license



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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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