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New study reveals health benefits of electric vehicle transition: 'Each city requires unique regulations or strategies'

In short, it's good news — and it's also complicated.

In short, it's good news — and it's also complicated.

Photo Credit: iStock

A new study from the University of Houston examined the possible health benefits of vehicle electrification scenarios across four major U.S. cities — Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago — by looking at projected changes in air pollution.

In short, it's good news — and it's also complicated.

The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found higher rates of electrification would spell nearly unequivocal good news for three of the four cities: Houston, New York, and Chicago.

In a full electrification scenario, Houston could prevent 157 premature deaths monthly. Meanwhile, New York and Chicago could avoid a respective 796 and 328 premature deaths per month, according to the analysis posted by Phys.org

These cities could also enjoy economic benefits related to health outcomes; the study projected savings anywhere from $51 million to $249 million a day.

"Our findings indicate vehicle electrification generally contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and lowering the mortality rate associated with exposure to toxic air pollutants," said Ali Mousavinezhad, one of the researchers, per Phys.org.

However, things were more complicated for Los Angeles. There, partial electrification could save over a thousand lives a year, but full electrification may actually increase mortality rates. Phys.org explained that it's due to the area's weather, atmospheric chemistry, and geography. The surrounding mountains often create trapped pockets of air, increasing the density of certain air pollutants.

"This underscores the need for region-specific environmental regulations," Mousavinezhad emphasized.

Fellow researcher Yunsoo Choi agreed, telling Phys.org, "Each city requires unique regulations or strategies, including different scenarios for the adoption of electric vehicles, to reduce concentrations of these pollutants and greenhouse gases effectively."

And with the adoption of electric cars increasing each year — according to MarketWatch, EV sales in the US increased by more than 60% between 2022 and 2023 — it will be critical to know how these trends will impact human health.

"The findings of this study will assist policymakers in tailoring their regulations to the specific characteristics of different regions to enhance quality of life," Ali concluded in the Phys.org report.

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