A new report suggests that switching to electric vehicles by 2050 would prevent millions of pediatric asthma attacks and save hundreds of child lives.
The American Lung Association found that switching to zero-emission vehicles and electric grids would prevent 2.8 million asthma attacks, 2.7 million respiratory symptoms, 147,000 cases of acute bronchitis and 508 childhood deaths.
Studies have found that gasoline-powered vehicles are one of the biggest carbon polluters in the U.S., which can be harmful to children by damaging their lung function, causing heat-related stress, and affecting sleep. fetal development.
New report claims one solution to growing teen health problems is for all new car buyers to choose a zero-emission vehicle by 2035 and zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles, such as ambulances, trucks and buses, to be buy by 2040.
The findings come as demand for electric vehicles has fallen from 76 percent in 2022 to 50 percent last year, prompting Ford and GM to lay off more than 2,000 workers at once-powerful lithium plants. promising.
The top states that would prevent more than 100,000 pediatric asthma attacks are Georgia, Texas and California.
“Air pollution and climate change are putting children at risk today,” said report author Will Barrett, the association’s senior director of clean air advocacy.
“The impacts of climate change continue to intensify, and that will only increase the risks that children in the United States face as they grow up.”
The new report details the ways in which recent climate-driven extreme weather events have disproportionately affected children’s health.
According to the 2023 ‘State of the Air’ report, More than 27 million children under age 18 live in counties that received a failing grade for unhealthy levels of at least one air pollutant.
Nearly 4.3 million children live in counties that do not meet all three measures.
Children with asthma and other lung diseases are at higher risk.
In fact, 1.7 million children with asthma live in counties that received an ‘F’ for at least one pollutant.
Low-income communities and many communities of color too often bear disproportionate burdens from air pollution in general, and transportation pollution, in particular, and children in these communities are at greatest risk.
Natural disasters are on the rise in the US: 28 occurred in 2023 alone, causing $1 billion in damage.
Reducing carbon emissions by putting more electric vehicles on the roads will cause an estimated 2.8 million asthma attacks, 2.7 million upper respiratory symptoms, 147,000 cases of acute bronchitis, and more than 500 children’s lives.
Traffic is a leading cause of carbon pollution in the United States, accounting for 28 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country, according to government databut in 2022, only five percent of vehicles on the road were electric.
“Air pollution harms the health and well-being of children today, and the transportation sector is a major source of air pollution.” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.
“Children are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” he continued. “As the impacts of climate change intensify, the risks to children’s health and future will continue to increase.”
The American Lung Association is now asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. .
Millions of children would avoid asthma attacks if the US reached zero emissions by 2050
Health experts intend for CAFE to “reflect the urgent need to reduce fossil fuel consumption and ensure continued improvements in vehicle efficiency.”
The report urged the EPA to take drastic measures to reduce health risks to children.
He also warned the EPA that the agency must finalize more stringent Phase 3 greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty vehicles and implement strict multi-pollutant standards for light and medium-duty vehicles.
The long-term effects of exposure to air pollution associated with wildfire smoke or extreme heat can affect children under age 18 by damaging their lung function, causing heat-related stress, and affecting development. fetal.
Even before a child is born, exposure to ozone and particulate pollution during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
If the child is born full term, exposure to air pollution can still lead to respiratory and heart problems, digestive problems, and a poor immune system as they grow.
Because their bodies are still developing, children’s nasal passages are not as effective at filtering air pollutants as adults’, and because they spend more time outdoors, children are more exposed to air. air pollution.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the country’s continuing air pollution challenges and the increase in extreme events driven by our changing climate,” the report says.
“Policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels must focus strategies to quickly move away from combustion technologies and toward zero-emission technologies to better protect health today and ensure children have safe, sustainable communities in which to grow up.” .