New Report: Transition to Zero-Emission Trucks Could Save More Than 66,000 Lives

Move to zero-emission trucks could result in $735 billion in public health benefits over the next 30 years and a more equitable future

Truck traffic produces harmful pollution, and approximately 45% of residents living in counties with major truck traffic are people of color. According to a new report by the American Lung Association, 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.

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. This new research builds on the Lung Association’s “Zeroing In on Healthy Air” research and 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.

“A widespread transition to zero-emission trucks and electricity would improve health, especially in communities near major trucking routes,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This transition would make important progress toward health equity.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 72 million Americans live in close proximity to heavy trucking corridors and “are more likely to be people of color and have lower incomes.” Air pollution from trucks in these areas 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.

In U.S. counties with major trucking routes, the transition to zero-emission heavy-duty transportation and clean, non-combustion energy by 2050 would result in up to:

  • $735 billion in cumulative health benefits
  • 66,800 avoided deaths 
  • 1.75 million avoided asthma attacks 
  • 8.5 million avoided lost workdays 

The U.S. counties that would see the most significant health benefits from a transition to zero-emission trucks are:

1.     Los Angeles County, CA (Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area)

2.     Cook County, IL (Chicago-Naperville metro area)

3.     Harris County, TX (Houston-The Woodlands metro area)

4.     Orange County, CA (Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area)

5.     Palm Beach County, FL (Miami-Port St. Lucie-Fort Lauderdale metro area)

6.     Miami-Dade County, FL (Miami-Port St. Lucie-Fort Lauderdale metro area)

7.     Broward County, FL (Miami-Port St. Lucie-Fort Lauderdale metro area)

8.     San Diego County, CA (San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad metro area)

9.     Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix-Mesa metro area)

10.  Contra Costa County, CA (San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland metro area)

The shift from combustion technologies to zero-emission trucks and electricity is needed to cut harmful air pollutants and curb climate change. The transportation sector is a leading source of air pollution and the United States’ biggest source of carbon pollution that drives climate change and associated public health harms. Trucks represent a small fraction of total on-road vehicles but generate the greatest share of harmful air pollutants. In 2020, heavy-duty vehicles represented approximately 6% of the on-road fleet but generated 59% of ozone- and particle-forming NOx emissions and 55% of the particle pollution (including brake and tire particles).

To achieve the health benefits outlined in this report, the American Lung Association is calling on decision makers at the federal and state levels to set stronger clean truck standards and to invest in zero-emission transportation infrastructure and zero-emission electricity. Learn more about the “Delivering Clean Air” report and sign the petition at Lung.org/EV

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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