In a new report by the American Lung Association in California, the health cost of air pollution from passenger vehicles topped $24 billion in 2015. And that’s just for 10 states – California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Put another way - over the course of the year, every tank (16-gallons) of gas that was used in our cars added $11.82** to public health bills.
These costs are due to the pollution created through the combustion of fossil fuels – gasoline and diesel – in these vehicles. These costs led to an estimated…
- 220,000 work-loss days
- >190,000 asthma exacerbations
- hundreds of thousands of other respiratory health impacts
- 2,580 premature deaths
… across the ten states that were the focus of this report. These states were included in the analysis because they have adopted zero emission vehicle sales programs.
According to the American Lung Association’s analysis, these programs could drive these states toward massive health savings. In their “Zero Emission Vehicle Future” scenario, the ALA’s experts estimate that these states could eliminate most (87.5%) of the health costs of air pollution from passenger vehicles.
In this scenario, today’s internal combustion engines were replaced over time by “zero emission vehicles” (ZEVs) including the following vehicle types:
- battery electric (BEVs)
- plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs)
- hydrogen fuel-cell electric (FCVs)
Furthermore, this scenario was structured so that all new cars sold in 2050 were ZEVs. This adoption rate means that, in practice, 65% of all passenger vehicles on the road in 2050 in the ten states were ZEVs. Of these vehicles, half were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles while the other half were comprised of both battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles.
Overall, California saw the highest health benefit in 2050 while Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont saw the lowest. This result is somewhat unsurprising given the corresponding populations and car demand levels for each state.
One can read the entire report at the following link.
**The American Lung Association in California also estimated the climate costs of passenger vehicles. Including these costs brought the total cost per 16-gallong tank of gasoline to $18.42 (see page 6 of the final ALA report).