Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicle Standards Would Yield Major Health Benefits

(April 4, 2013)

They say “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The American Lung Association’s latest report, “A Penny for Prevention: The Case for Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicle Standards”  reveals that Americans would see major health benefits and save billions of dollars if the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is able to fully implement the newly proposed standards for cleaner gasoline and cleaner vehicles.

The report finds that by 2030, cleaner gasoline and cleaner vehicle standards could:

  • Prevent more than 2,500 premature deaths annually because of less ozone and particle pollution
  • Prevent more than 3.3 million days missed at work or school
  • Result in $8.5 billion to $22 billion in annual economic and health care benefits
  • Produce a pollution reduction equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road

These new, more protective standards would limit sulfur in gasoline for the cost of about one penny per gallon and would tighten the limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles for the cost of less than $150 per new vehicle. These revised gasoline standards would reduce pollution from all cars, light trucks and SUVs as soon as the cleaner fuel is in place.

“Americans drive a lot. The number of vehicles on the road and the mileage driven remain near an all-time high, exposing millions of Americans to the harmful impacts of tailpipe pollution,” said Paul. G. Billings, Senior Vice President of the American Lung Association. “Although cars are a lot cleaner than they used to be, they are still a major source of pollution that makes us sick.”

The burden of air pollution on people is not equal. Up to 45 percent of the urban North American population lives, works or goes to school within 300-500 meters of a major roadway, putting them at greater risk for harm from tailpipe pollution. 

Children, the elderly, people with chronic lung and heart disease and diabetes, and those with low-incomes bear a greater burden. In fact, living near a major roadway can cause asthma attacks and may lead to childhood asthma, heart attacks and even premature death.

The proposed cleaner gasoline and vehicle standards will reduce ozone smog and particle pollution, which will bring relief to millions of Americans suffering from asthma and other lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Also by keeping people healthier, families will miss fewer days at work and the US will save billions of dollars in lower health care costs.

According to a recent American Lung Association nationwide, bipartisan survey, by a 2 to 1 margin American voters support EPA setting stricter standards on gasoline and tightening limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles.

Not only does the American public support standards that better protect our health, but automakers, Governors, state and local air agencies, labor groups, health groups and environmental groups all support these lifesaving standards.

Want to learn more? Check out the full report along with an interactive presentation.