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A nationwide transition to clean, zero-emission vehicles would have a dramatic impact on the air quality and health of California 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 15,300 avoided deaths and $169 billion in public health benefits here in California. In fact, Los Angeles-Long Beach was listed as the top metro area in the country that would benefit 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 California, the transition would generate $169 billion in public health benefits and result in up to:
•    15,300 avoided deaths 
•    440,000 avoided asthma attacks 
•    2,160,000 avoided lost workdays 

“The transportation sector is a leading contributor to air pollution and climate change,” said Will Barrett, national senior director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association. “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 act to 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.”

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. 

For more information about “Zeroing in on Healthy Air,” visit Lung.org/EV.

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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org