Across the planet, the ongoing value of healthcare attributed to internal combustion-powered transport pollution is significant.
Air pollution created by the transportation task is a major contributing factor to a wide range of health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year, air pollution is responsible for an estimated 7 million premature deaths worldwide.
The majority of these deaths are attributed to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are major components of the emissions caused by vehicle exhausts.
In terms of healthcare costs, a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health estimated that the health costs associated with transportation-related air pollution in the United States alone amounted to US$24 billion per year.
These staggering costs include line items such as medical expenses, lost productivity, and premature deaths.
It is widely established that electric vehicles reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which are a major source of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
By using electricity as a fuel source, around the globe, we can not only reduce our carbon footprint and help to mitigate climate change, but also improve health outcomes, especially in densely populated areas. Here’s how:
Electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions, meaning they don’t emit harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide, which in turn reduces the overall amount of pollution in the air, improving air quality and reducing the health problems associated with air pollution.
Diesel-powered vehicles emit several pollutants that electric vehicles do not, including:
Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Diesel engines emit high levels of NOx, which are harmful pollutants that can contribute to the formation of smog and acid rain. NOx can also have negative health impacts, including a range of respiratory issues.
Particulate Matter (PM)
Diesel engines emit fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause a variety of health problems, including asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Diesel fuel contains sulfur, which is released as SO2 when the fuel is burned. SO2 can contribute to acid rain and can cause further respiratory trouble.
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
When renewable energy sources are employed in the charging of EVs, the relative production of carbon dioxide is typically removed from transportation.
From this, it is clear that by transitioning to electric vehicles, we can reduce our reliance on diesel fuel and help to create a cleaner, healthier environment.
More and more, electric grids around the world are transitioning to renewable sources of power, and further to this, companies with EV charging infrastructure are utilising rooftop solar as a free source of energy.
Air quality in urban areas, and subsequently, health outcomes, continue to improve with the deployment of renewable energy over fossil fuel use.
There are various types of renewable energy currently being utilised or developed, including:
The energy from the sun can be captured and converted into electricity using solar panels or concentrated solar power systems, which uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight into a small area, creating heat which ultimately turns a turbine.
The energy from the wind can be harnessed using turbines to generate electricity.
The energy from moving water can be used to generate electricity using hydropower turbines, via dams, pumped-storage hydro, run-of-river systems, and smaller systems, such as those found on mains water pipes.
The heat from the Earth’s core can be harnessed using geothermal power plants to generate electricity, such as via naturally occurring hot water or steam, or other enhanced systems.
Organic materials such as wood, crop waste, biogas, algae, municipal solid waste, and animal manure can be safely burned to generate electricity or produce biofuels.
The movement of ocean waves, tides, and currents can be used to generate power using various technologies such as tidal turbines, wave energy converters, and ocean thermal energy conversion.
These renewable energy sources have the potential to provide clean, sustainable energy to power our homes and businesses, plus of course, transportation systems.
Noise Pollution Reduction
Electric vehicles produce significantly less noise pollution than their fuel-burning counterparts, which are a major contributor to current urban noise pollution.
Lowered noise levels in residential areas can help to reduce stress levels and improve the overall quality of life on multiple fronts, including:
Exposure to high levels of noise can lead to a variety of health problems, including hearing loss, tinnitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and sleep disturbance. Prolonged exposure to noise pollution can also lead to chronic stress, which can have negative impacts on mental health.
Disturbance of Daily Life
Noise pollution can be disruptive to daily life, making it difficult to concentrate, communicate, and relax. It can interfere with outdoor activities and recreational pursuits, as well as disrupt sleep and other daily routines.
Reduced Quality of Life
Noise pollution can impact the overall quality of life in urban areas, making the areas less desirable places to live, work, and play. This can lead to decreased property values, reduced economic activity, and lower levels of social cohesion.
Noise pollution can also have negative impacts on the environment, including on wildlife and their habitats. It can interfere with animal communication and migration patterns and contribute to declining species populations.
Reducing urban noise pollution will require multiple actions, such as using quieter modes of transportation, namely converting to EV solutions, implementing other noise-reducing technologies, and creating quiet zones in residential areas, which would be perfectly suited to EV use.
In the end, electric vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce pollution levels and improve public health in urban areas, making them an important part of the transition to a more sustainable transportation system.
The healthcare costs associated with internal combustion-powered transport pollution are significant, and they highlight the need for cleaner, more sustainable modes of transportation, from cars through to trucks and buses.
Transitioning to electric vehicles, such as the solutions provided by SEA Electric, and investing in public transportation, biking, and walking infrastructure can help to reduce the negative health impacts of transportation-related air pollution and improve public health outcomes.