Driving to Clean Air: New Report Reveals that a Move to Zero-Emission Vehicles Would Save Over 2,000 Lives in Maryland

American Lung Association releases report detailing benefits of transition to zero-emission passenger vehicles and electricity

A nationwide transition to clean, zero-emission passenger vehicles would have a dramatic impact on the air quality and health of Americans, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. The report, titled “Driving to Clean Air: Health Benefits of Zero-Emission Cars and Electricity,” highlights that a widespread transition to zero-emission passenger vehicles and electricity would result in up to 2,100 fewer deaths and $23 billion in public health benefits across Maryland by 2050.

As federal and state policymakers consider new vehicle standards, the Lung Association’s new “Driving to Clean Air” report illustrates the potential health benefits if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035. The report also projects that the nation’s electric grid will be powered by clean, non-combustion renewable energy replacing fossil fuels by 2035. 

Nationally, a widespread transition to electric passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks, would result in up to 89,300 fewer premature deaths and $978 billion in health benefits from 2020 to 2050. Here in Maryland, the transition would generate $23 billion in public health benefits and result in up to:
•    2,100 avoided deaths 
•    52,400 avoided asthma attacks 
•    260,000 avoided lost workdays 

Maryland has already taken important steps toward a cleaner transportation sector. Maryland is currently considering zero-emission trucking standards and previously adopted standards to bring more zero-emission vehicles for sale through 2025. Adopting new “Advanced Clean Cars II” standards could bring greater volumes of non-polluting passenger vehicles and associated health benefits home to Maryland communities into the next decade. This program has the strong support of the American Lung Association as a key air pollution control measure.

Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a proposed rule that would create stricter emissions standards for cars and could make two-thirds of new passenger vehicles zero-emission by 2032. EPA is currently taking comments on this proposed rule.

“Too many people across Maryland are impacted by the pollution caused by the transportation sector, including our children, grandparents and loved ones living with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer,” said Aleks Casper, Director of Advocacy, MD, DE, DC and VA at the American Lung Association. “We urge our state leaders to take action today to invest in the transition to zero-emission vehicles, which will improve our air quality and health.”

The transportation sector is a leading source of air pollution and the nation’s biggest source of carbon pollution that drives climate change and associated public health harms. According to the 2023 “State of the Air” report, approximately 120 million people in the U.S. live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Low-income communities and many communities of color too often bear disproportionate burdens from air pollution broadly, and transportation pollution, specifically.  

This new report that focuses on passenger vehicles stems from the more comprehensive March 2022 American Lung Association “Zeroing In On Healthy Air” report.

The technologies and systems are in place to make these benefits a reality if leaders act to implement policies and invest in the transition today. The American Lung Association is urging the EPA to finalize strong pollution limits for new cars that drive a nationwide transition to zero-emission vehicles and for states to use their authority to establish more health-protective vehicle standards.

Learn more and see the full report at Lung.org/EV. To speak with a lung health expert, contact Val.Gleason at 717-971-1123 or [email protected].

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