Switching to electric vehicles by 2050 could prevent 2.8 MILLION asthma attacks in children and more than 500 child deaths, claims report

By Nikki Main Science Reporter for Dailymail.Com

10:53 PM February 21, 2024, updated 10:53 PM February 21, 2024

A new report has suggested that switching to electric vehicles could prevent millions of asthma attacks in children by 2050 and save the lives of hundreds of children.

The American Lung Association found that switching to zero-emission vehicles and electricity grids could prevent 2.8 million asthma attacks, 2.7 million respiratory symptoms, 147,000 cases of acute bronchitis and 508 infant deaths.

Research has shown that gas-powered vehicles are one of the largest carbon polluters in the U.S., which can harm children by damaging their lung function, causing heat-related stress and affecting fetal development.

The new report states that one solution to the growing health problems of adolescents is for all new car buyers to choose zero-emission cars by 2035 and to purchase heavy-duty vehicles such as ambulances, trucks and buses that emit zero emissions 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 promising lithium plants.

Top states that could avoid more than 100,000 childhood asthma attacks include 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 worsen, and that will only increase the risks that children in the United States face as they grow up.”

The new report details 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 the age of 18 live in counties that have received a failing grade for unhealthy levels of at least one air pollutant.

Nearly 4.3 million children live in provinces that do not meet all three measures.

Children with asthma and other lung diseases are at greater 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 of air pollution in general, and transportation pollution in particular – and children in these communities are at greater risk.

The number of natural disasters in the US is increasing; 28 will occur in 2023 alone, causing $1 billion in damage
Reducing CO2 emissions by putting more electric vehicles on the road will save approximately 2.8 million asthma attacks, 2.7 million upper respiratory symptoms, 147,000 cases of acute bronchitis and more than 500 child lives.

Traffic is one of the leading causes of carbon pollution in the US, responsible for 28 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country, according to government data, but as of 2022 only five percent of vehicles on the road were electric.

‘Air pollution is harming the health and well-being of children today, and the transport sector is a major source of air pollution.’ said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.

“Children are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” he continued. ‘As the impacts of climate change increase, risks to children’s health and futures will continue to increase.’

The American Lung Association is now calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Millions of children would avoid asthma attacks if the US reached net-zero emissions by 2050

The health experts aim for CAFE to “reflect the urgent need to reduce fossil fuel consumption and ensure continued improvements in vehicle efficiency.”

More than 120 million Americans live in places with dangerously high levels of air pollution

Even ‘safe’ levels of air pollution can cause heart attacks, a study suggests. Researchers also found that people can be knocked out within an hour of breathing dirty air

The report urged the EPA to take drastic action to reduce health risks to children.

It also warned the EPA that the agency must finalize the strongest Phase 3 greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty vehicles and implement strong 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 impact children under 18 years of age by impairing their lung function, causing heat-related stress, and affecting fetal development.

Before a child is even 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 poor immune function as the child ages.

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 pollution.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of ongoing air pollution challenges and the increase in extreme events due to our changing climate,” the report said.

“Policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels must focus strategies to rapidly transition away from combustion technologies and toward zero-emission technologies to best protect today’s health and ensure that children have safe and sustainable communities in which they can grow.’

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