Mashable has reported the findings of a new study from the American Lung Association (ALA), Road to Clean Air, which showed that if Americans buy enough EVs by 2050, it could save thousands of lives. In a nutshell, the analysis found that if Americans electrified their transportation, America could save $72 billion in health costs and 6,300 lives. It could also prevent 93,000 asthma attacks in the next 30 years.
The research data comes from ongoing research from the ALA along with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public health tools. The EPA lists transportation use as the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — accounting for 28% of all emissions.
While looking at a range of scenarios and resulting expected emissions, the ALA mapped out an ideal 2050 Healthy Electric Transportation scenario. This analysis contrasts a Business As Usual scenario and a world in which electric vehicles account for all vehicle sales by 2025. Greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. would drop 90%.
Air Pollution & Climate Change Threaten Public Health
The report clearly states, “Air Pollution and Climate Change Threaten Public Health.” The ALA points out that too many Americans are breathing in air that could harm our health. Its State of The Air 2020 report found that 5 out of 10 people — 150 million Americans — live in counties and parishes affected by unhealthy ozone and/or particle pollution. These are the two most widespread air pollutants in the U.S.
The report cites the review of over 700 scientific studies showing that traffic pollution is linked to asthma attacks in children and could cause other effects including the onset of childhood asthma, impaired lung function, premature death, and death from cardiovascular diseases.
“Far too often, clean air is out of reach for communities living near major pollution sources, including highways, ports, and power plants. Communities of color are disproportionately harmed by poor air quality in the United States. The time to act on electric transportation is now.” — Harold Wimmer, President and CEO American Lung Association
EVs Will Save Lives
When Elon Musk and Tesla first came onto the auto scene, they were often the butt of jokes or highlighted as extravagant or outlandish. However, if it wasn’t for Tesla, electric vehicles would not be where they are today — rising into the mainstream. Without Tesla’s push, this market would hardly exist. It would be there, but there would be minimal awareness.
Other automakers are finally joining Tesla, and the ALA underlines just how much of an impact on our health electric vehicles have:
“The transition to zero-emission transportation will benefit the health of children riding school buses, daily commuters and transit riders, truckers, and local delivery drivers and especially those residents nearest major roadways, warehouse distribution centers and other pollution hotspots. People who live downwind of major urban areas will also benefit. Further, the transition away from burning harmful fossil fuels in the power sector to non-combustion renewable energy, including wind and solar, is critical to addressing the impacts on communities most burdened by emissions generated at fossil-fueled power plants. The transportation sector must move comprehensively to zero-emission solutions, including both electric vehicles and their fuels, as rapidly as possible.”
In the ALA’s table above, the research shows how both health and climate can financially benefit. The report noted the following health and climate benefits if we follow a clear car path:
- Ozone- and particle-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are reduced by 1.3 million tons (100% reduction compared with the “Business As Usual” Scenario).
- Directly emitted fine particle pollution (PM2.5) is reduced by more than 53,000 tons in 2050 (a 108% reduction below on-road fleet emissions).
- Greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change are reduced by more than 1.5 billion metric tons in 2050 (a 94% reduction) compared with the on-road emissions generated by the baseline fleet.
How Asthma Impacted My Life
I am one of the 19.2 million American adults with asthma. I was 14 when I was first diagnosed. I was an odd case — I didn’t have it as a child, and there was no family history of asthma. It was a disease that literally appeared seemingly out of nowhere and left me in the hospital for three weeks. I actually had temporary amnesia, since my brain went without oxygen for 3 minutes — I was temporarily dead. I don’t remember much of that day and only know what my mother and the doctors told me. I’d died and they resuscitated me. I literally had to relearn how to breathe.
I had to learn the proper way to use an inhaler, use a peak flow meter to measure the speed of my exhalation — it had to be certain speed. If your exhalation is below a certain range, you should visit your doctor and get treatment. I was in and out of the hospital over a hundred times for the first three years — and wound up failing two years of high school and enduring severe bullying due to asthma. I was nicknamed by teachers and students as “Breathless.”
This is one reason why Tesla’s movement toward sustainability is so important to me. It is an auto company (more than an auto company, actually,) that actually cares about the people whose lives are affected by the impact of its products. We need more companies that care about how their products impact the climate, air, and lives of not just their customers, but the people around their customers.