Could EV Adoption Reduce Deaths Caused by Air Pollution?

Switching to electric vehicles could save millions of lives and inject trillions into the US healthcare system by 2050, says the American Lung Association

Every year, a staggering 8.8 million people meet premature deaths due to air pollution, as revealed by the American Lung Association. The consequences are dire, ranging from nagging coughs to exacerbation of existing health conditions. Particulate matter from conventional vehicles infiltrates our bodies, wreaking havoc on the cardiovascular system. This toxic influx significantly ups the risk of heart attacks and strokes, besides posing threats to pregnant women and their unborn children.

Curbing the crisis: The impact on children

Especially vulnerable are our children, who face a lifetime of health issues due to air pollution. In congested urban areas or poorly ventilated homes, the air they breathe could spell disaster. 

Research indicates that exposure to pollutants dramatically heightens the likelihood of respiratory problems, compromises lung function, and exacerbates asthma. Alarming new findings even link air pollution to attention-related disorders, as pollutants weaken children's immune systems, rendering them susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia. The ripple effects extend beyond health; sick days from school disrupt learning, while parents may have to sacrifice workdays to tend to their ailing children.

Charting a healthier course with electric transport

The US Department of Energy's calculations underscore the environmental benefits of electric vehicles, emitting significantly fewer carbon emissions than their gas-guzzling counterparts. Embracing a zero-emission future could be transformative, particularly for children's well-being. The American Lung Association advocates for a swift transition: by 2035, all new car purchases should lean towards electric vehicle options, followed by a shift to zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2040. Moreover, by 2035, a clean and renewable energy grid could be the norm, promising a breath of fresh air for generations to come.

“Air pollution and climate change are putting children at risk today,” said Will Barrett, the association’s Senior Director of Advocacy for Clean Air, who authored the report. “The impacts of climate change continue to intensify, and that will just add to the risks that children in the United States face as they’re growing up.”

While electric cars spearhead the charge towards cleaner transport, electric buses are also gaining traction as allies in the battle against air pollution. A report from CME Solutions showed that in 2023, the European e-bus market saw a 53% rise in registrations, with more than 42% of city buses being zero-emission (including Hydrogen). Additionally, electric scooters offer a convenient, eco-friendly alternative for short trips, with over 80% of journeys clocking in at under 10km. As communities embrace diverse forms of electric transport, the path to cleaner air and healthier lives becomes increasingly tangible.


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