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Health experts shine light on health impact of electric vehicles

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Posted at 11:30 AM, Mar 31, 2022

We know electric vehicles can help the environment, but now the American Lung Association is putting a number on the lives the switch could save.

If by 2035, every car sold in the country is electric, the association says 110,000 deaths could be avoided.

“Breathing in air pollution from motor vehicles can cause a wide variety of adverse health consequences asthma attacks heart attack stroke from the smog and soot that is created by emissions from cars and trucks,” said Paul Billings, vice president of Public Policy at the American Lung Association.

In turn, the association says that would also generate $1.2 trillion in health benefits and save more than 13 million sick days by the year 2050.

Stares with busy metro areas and a lot of traffic would benefit the most, but the association says there would be big ripple effects to all communities.

“We all live near roads, we all are operating vehicles and so from the smallest town to the largest city, cleaning up the transportation that’s driving by our own front doors, by our schools, by our playgrounds will help the health of everyone,” said Billings.

The report found an electric transition would also particularly benefit people of color living in low-income areas near highways and freight trains.

These neighborhoods would see $155-billion worth of public health benefits, which could help close racial gaps in health care.

“So we know if we promote an equitable solution, we can improve health equity improve the lives of all but, particularly those that have borne the greatest burden from air pollution,” said Billings.

Getting to this point won't be cheap and will take coordination at the federal, state, and local level.

The Biden administration has been working toward a switch to electric vehicles.

This week, it announced a new facility in North Carolina to make EVs and batteries.

But the administration's overall goal isn't quite as ambitious as what the association is calling for; it’s aiming for half of all cars sold to be electric by 2030.