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Boosting health for children: Transition to electric vehicles and clean power would prevent 2.7 million asthma attacks in US kids

American Lung Association releases report detailing health benefits for children of transition to zero-emission vehicles and electricity

Boosting health for children: Transition to electric vehicles and clean power would prevent 2.7 million asthma attacks in US kids

A new report, "Boosting Health for Children: Benefits of Zero-Emission Transportation and Electricity," released today by the American Lung Association, highlights that a widespread transition to zero-emission vehicles and electricity would dramatically improve the health of children across the US. The transition would prevent 2.79 million pediatric asthma attacks and millions of other respiratory symptoms and save hundreds of infant lives by 2050.

The new report is based on projected health impacts if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035 and all new trucks sold are zero-emission by 2040. It also projects that the nation's electric grid will be powered by clean, non-combustion renewable energy by 2035. According to the report, the transition to zero-emission transportation powered by clean non-combustion energy from 2020 to 2050 would prevent up to:

  • 2.79 million pediatric asthma attacks

  • 147,000 pediatric acute bronchitis cases

  • 2.67 million pediatric upper respiratory symptoms

  • 1.87 million pediatric lower respiratory symptoms

  • 508 infant mortality cases

"Air pollution harms children's health and wellbeing today, and the transportation sector is a leading source of air pollution. Vehicle emissions are also nation's biggest source of carbon pollution that drives climate change and associated public health harms," said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association"As families across the country have experienced in recent months, climate change increases air pollution, extreme weather, flooding events, allergens, as well as heat and drought, leading to greater risk of wildfires. Kids are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As the impacts of climate change intensify, the risks to children's health and future will continue to grow. This is why the American Lung Association is working hard to advocate for solutions to transition to a zero-emission future."

The new report also details ways that recent climate-fueled 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. Almost 4.3 million children live in counties failing 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 from air pollution broadly, and transportation pollution, specifically. Kids in these communities are at greater risk.

This new report that focuses on children's health stems from the more comprehensive March 2022 American Lung Association "Zeroing In On Healthy Air" report, which illustrates $1.2 trillion in public health benefits could be achieved through this transition to zero-emissions in the United States.

Policymakers have the power to support children's health by cutting harmful air pollution and climate change that threatens their future. The American Lung Association is urging the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalise strong pollution limits for new cars and trucks that drive a nationwide transition to zero-emission vehicles.

About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organisation 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.

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