New Report Sheds Light on Major Health Benefits of Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicle Standards

American Lung Association Releases “A Penny for Prevention: The Case for Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicles”

Sacramento, CA (April 4, 2013)

The American Lung Association’s latest report, “A Penny for Prevention: The Case for Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicle Standards” finds that thousands of lives can be saved and millions of missed work and school days can be prevented 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; and
  • Result in $8.5 billion to $22 billion in annual economic and health care benefits. 

The actual benefits of cleaner gasoline and vehicle standards will likely be much higher because the area analyzed in the report only includes the major population centers in the Eastern United States. It does not include major population centers in Texas and in the West.

“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.”

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. The new standards would be the pollution equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road. 

“These are critical standards that must be put into place,” added Billings. “We cannot afford any further delays of these lifesaving protections.” 

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.

Automakers, emissions control technology manufacturers, Governors, state and local air agencies, labor, health groups and environmental groups all support these lifesaving standards.

The full report, along with an interactive presentation, may be found here