A nationwide transition to clean, zero-emission vehicles would have a dramatic impact on the air quality and health of Rhode Island residents, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. The “Zeroing in on Healthy Air” report, released today, reveals that a widespread transition to vehicles powered by clean electricity generation would result in up to 348 avoided deaths and $3.8 billion in public health benefits here in Rhode Island. In fact, the Boston-Worcester-Providence Metro Area was listed as one of the top 25 metro areas that would benefit the most from the transition.
“Zeroing in on Healthy Air” outlines the broad benefits of the transition to a zero-emission transportation sector over the coming decades. The report illustrates the potential health and climate benefits if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035 and all new trucks and buses sold are zero-emission by 2040. The report projects that the nation’s electric grid will be powered by clean, non-combustion electricity replacing dirty fossil fuels by 2035.
Nationally, a widespread transition to electric vehicles would generate more than $1.2 trillion in health benefits and $1.7 trillion in additional climate benefits by 2050. Here in Rhode Island, the transition would generate $3.8 billion in public health benefits and result in up to:
348 avoided deaths
6,570 avoided asthma attacks
35,600 avoided lost workdays
“The transportation sector is a leading contributor to air pollution and climate change,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, director of advocacy at the American Lung Association in Rhode Island. “Thankfully, the technologies and systems are in place to make these benefits a reality, especially in communities most impacted by harmful pollution today. We need our state leaders to continue to act and implement equitable policies and invest in the transition to healthy air today. This is an urgent health issue for millions of people in the U.S. Here in Rhode Island our communities living along the port of Providence and the 95 corridor have significantly higher rates of asthma – Rhode Islanders deserve to breathe clean air regardless of the zip code they live in”.
Climate change threatens the health of all Americans, from wildfires and extreme storms to worsening air pollution. And poor air quality caused by transportation and electricity generation contributes to a wide range of negative health impacts, including childhood asthma attacks, impaired lung function and development, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and premature deaths. These are sources of health disparities in lower-income communities and communities of color, both in terms of exposure to harmful air and the associated health consequences.
Achieving these major benefits to our health and our climate will require dedicated and sustained leadership. Investment at all levels of government, and public education and engagement will ensure the transition to zero-emission vehicles provides clean air for everyone. The American Lung Association is asking the public to sign our petition calling for more rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles and energy at Lung.org/EV.
For more information about "Zeroing in on Healthy Air,” visit Lung.org/EV.
Journalists seeking to speak with a policy or medical expert about this report and the health impacts of air pollution or climate change may contact Jennifer Solomon at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.