New study projects health benefits of rapid renewables & EV adoption

Growth of electric vehicles, heat pump and renewable energy adoption linked to major cuts in air pollution.

Clean energy

Ted Gotwals | Used by permission
Advocates with Environment Colorado lead an event to release the 2022 Renewables on the Rise report.

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications found that a rapid transition to electric vehicles and heat pumps for buildings would dramatically reduce hazardous air pollutants in the United States.

Researchers looked at a scenario where:

  • roughly 60 percent of new vehicle sales in 2035 are battery-powered or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
  • renewable power increases rapidly,
  • and nearly all coal-fired power plants are shut down by 2025.

The results?

  • Sulfur oxide emissions in 2035 plummet to 99 percent below 2016 levels. Sulfur dioxide causes coughing, mucus secretion and aggravates conditions such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.
  • Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions fall as much as 87 percent. Elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide can damage the human respiratory tract and cause and worsen respiratory infections and asthma. Long-term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause chronic lung disease.
  • Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from vehicle tailpipes and off-road sources drop 80 percent. Exposure to VOC vapors can cause a variety of health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches and loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. Some VOCs are suspected or proven carcinogens.

“A future powered by 100% renewable energy is in our reach and the benefits to our health is tremendous,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy after the study came out.

To see how electric vehicles and renewable energy are growing in your state, check out the the Renewables on the Rise dashboard.



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