Electric cars could improve kids' health, study finds

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Researchers say clean power sources could have lasting impacts on health

A new report published by the American Lung Association dove deep into the ways that switching to electric vehicles (EVs), and other sources of clean power, could greatly benefit the youngest population. 

The report, which focused on kids in Michigan, found that clean power could solve a great deal of kids’ health concerns. Perhaps the biggest finding: nearly three million childhood asthma attacks could be prevented by 2050 with the shift to EVs and clean electricity. 

“Here in Michigan, the transportation sector is a leading source of air pollution and are the biggest source of carbon pollution that drives climate change and associated public health harms,” said Ken Fletcher, advocacy director at the American Lung Association. “This affects our children’s health and well-being today, and as the impacts of climate change intensify, it will impact their futures.” 

Zero-emission vehicles and electricity

For this report, experts looked at the ways that transitioning to zero-emission transportation and non-combustion clean electricity could benefit children’s health. 

The study projected the health impacts on children assuming: 

  • All new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035

  • All new trucks sold are zero-emission by 2040

  • The electric grid will be clean-powered by 2035

Ultimately, the researchers found that should these changes go into effect over the next decade, there would be several health benefits for children by 2050. These include: 

  • 500+ fewer infant deaths

  • 2.8 million fewer asthma attacks

  • 2.7 million fewer upper respiratory symptoms (wet cough, runny nose, burning eyes)

  • 1.9 million fewer lower respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, chest pain)

  • 147,000 fewer acute bronchitis cases 

The impact on children’s health

The focus of the study was on children for a few reasons. The report explains that children are uniquely vulnerable to air pollution because their bodies are still developing and they have greater exposure to air pollution than adults. 

Additionally, the 2023 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association found that 27 million U.S. children live in counties that have unhealthy air pollution levels. 

“Policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels must focus strategies to rapidly move away from combustion technologies and toward zero-emission technologies to best protect health today and ensure children have safe and sustainable communities in which to grow,” the report says

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