Electric cars really can save the planet and your lungs, environmental study says
Electric cars really do reduce air pollution and boost public health, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) say asthma attacks and other respiratory problems fall as more people switch to vehicles which produce zero emissions. The findings come from the first “real world study” of its kind, looking at the controversial vehicles’ impact on individual neighborhoods. Researchers say there have been claims that the heavier motors will increase carbon emissions, offsetting the gains of switching from gas and diesel engines to electric. Electric cars are typically about 20 to 30 percent heavier than their gas or diesel-powered counterparts. The theory suggests that wear from brake linings and tires may be greater in electric cars than with traditional vehicles because of the weight of their battery - generating more harmful fine particles. Leveraging publicly available datasets, the researchers analyzed a “natural experiment” as residents in California rapidly transitioned to electric cars, or light-duty zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). At a zip code level, for every additional 20 vehicles per 1,000 people, asthma emergencies dropped by 3.2 percent. Federal air monitoring sites showed levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air pollutant caused by traffic, also fell.