SACRAMENTO, CA | October 4, 2022
A new report by the American Lung Association finds that switching to zero-emission trucks and electricity would significantly reduce health impacts and disparities in pollution-burdened communities that are home to major truck traffic, including in California.
The report, “Delivering Clean Air: Health Benefits of Zero-Emission Trucks and Electricity,” illustrates the potential health benefits if all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2040. The report focuses specifically on trucking corridors with 8,500 or more trucks trips per day. It 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 zero-emission trucks and electricity would generate more than $735 billion in health benefits and result in 66,800 avoided deaths near major trucking corridors cumulatively by 2050. In California, the transition would generate $103 billion in public health benefits and result in up to:
• 9,300 avoided deaths
• 270,546 avoided asthma attacks
• 1,320,710 avoided lost workdays
“California has the worst air pollution in the nation, and frontline communities are disproportionately impacted by trucking pollution,” said Will Barrett, National Senior Director of Clean Air Advocacy with the American Lung Association. “In California, medium and heavy-duty trucks represent just a small fraction of vehicles on the road but generate over half of transportation sector pollution. This report shows California could experience significant health improvements from a transition to zero-emission vehicles and non-combustion electricity. Our state and federal leaders must enact policies that can truly deliver on these clean air and health benefits.”
The report also highlights that a transition to zero-emission trucks is a significant opportunity to improve health equity by reducing health impacts in pollution-burdened communities near major truck traffic areas. Approximately 45% of residents in counties with major truck traffic are people of color compared with approximately 38% nationally. The Environmental Protection Agency found that 72 million Americans live near heavy trucking corridors and they “are more likely to be people of color and have lower incomes.”
Exposure to traffic-related pollution is a serious health hazard to those living in communities with heavy truck traffic. The mixture of emissions has been linked to poor birth outcomes, reduced lung and cognitive development, development and worsening of chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and increased risk of dementia, cancer, and premature death.
To achieve the health benefits outlined in this report, the American Lung Association is calling on decisionmakers at the federal and state levels to set stronger clean truck standards and to invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and non-combustion energy sources. Learn more about the “Delivering Clean Air” report and sign the petition at Lung.org/EV.