In recent news, the issue of air quality has taken center stage, and a newly released report suggests that transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) could have significant public health benefits. According to the American Lung Association, if the nation were to shift to 100% emission-free new passenger vehicles and non-combustion energy generation by 2035, it could result in nearly a trillion dollars in public health benefits. The report further estimates that by 2050, there could be over 89,000 fewer premature deaths and 10.7 million fewer lost workdays.
Will Barrett, the national senior director for clean air advocacy at the American Lung Association, highlighted the substantial impact of clean air on public health in Maryland, stating, “In Maryland, that could amount to $23 billion in public health benefits by 2050 and save over 2,000 lives. The air will be much cleaner as we transition to zero-emission passenger vehicles and cleaner energy to fuel them.”
The “Driving to Clean Air” report also projected positive outcomes for Maryland, predicting 52,000 fewer asthma attacks and 260,000 fewer lost workdays by 2050.
The air quality in different regions is influenced not only by local vehicle traffic and industrial output but also by more distant factors, as highlighted by Barrett. He noted, “Right now, we’re seeing the impacts of wildfire smoke coming into cities along the Eastern Seaboard. This is increasingly common, and it really speaks to the need to control all sources of harmful pollution. As the transportation sector is the leading source of harmful pollution, we need to focus on getting to zero-emission technologies as widely and quickly as possible.”
Maryland is currently in the process of adopting Advanced Clean Cars II. This multistate compact requires manufacturers to progressively increase the share of electric vehicle sales, ultimately reaching 100% in the state by 2035.
In March, the American Lung Association published its annual “State of the Air” report, revealing that 120 million Americans reside in areas with unhealthy ozone levels and/or particle pollution.
Barrett emphasized that the transition from combustion to electricity is a critical health issue nationwide. He stated, “There are millions and millions of Americans living with conditions that make them more vulnerable to poor air quality. At the same time, pollution from the transportation sector is linked to premature death due to cardiovascular issues and lung cancer. It can cause the formation or onset of new cases of asthma in children and adults.”
The report also called on states to leverage the clean energy incentives recently included in the Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 Infrastructure Bill.
As concerns over air quality and its impact on public health continue to grow, the findings of this report provide valuable insights and underscore the urgency of transitioning to zero-emission technologies. With the potential for trillions of dollars in health benefits and significant reductions in premature deaths and lost workdays, the widespread adoption of electric vehicles appears advantageous for the environment and the well-being of communities across the country.