Electric vehicles (EVs) are better for the environment, but what about human health? Although most people think of them as super healthy, they still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution — which can be hazardous to inhale. Is it still better for you to drive one?
Can EV Charging Affect Your Health?
Although electric vehicle charging doesn’t directly impact your wellbeing, it technically produces pollution — known as secondary emissions — because you use fossil fuels when you refill the battery with the power grid.
Air pollution can be hazardous to humans. While the EPA tracks how much EVs produce, you should know that it doesn’t include battery charging in the total amount. Their impact may be greater than what the numbers show.
For the most part, you won’t experience any negative health effects. Level two chargers — the most common kind available — charge EVs at 12-80 miles per hour on average. Most vehicles will only take a few hours to reach full battery at that speed, so they won’t create many secondary emissions.
Plus, recharging with renewables minimizes the greenhouse gas emissions an EV produces. It’s actually pretty common for people to install solar panels on their homes for this very reason. You can always use clean energy if you’re concerned about the health impacts of fossil fuels.
Do EVs Impact Your Health While You Drive?
Driving an EV doesn’t adversely impact your well-being. It runs much cleaner than a gas vehicle, so it won’t expose you to the same contaminants. Also, it improves air quality, which could increase people’s health in the areas you travel.
A specific kind of air pollution — fine particulate matter — mainly comes from gas vehicles on the road. It causes nearly 55,000 deaths every year, reaching over 3 million globally. This is mainly because it’s the root of so many different health issues. It can cause everything from lung cancer to heart disease.
Pedestrians, other drivers and people who live near roads breathe in a lot of it over time, worsening their health issues. Using an EV instead can reduce the amount in the air, improving their condition. Essentially, choosing electric over gas is better for you if you live near a busy street.
Are EVs Healthier Than Gas Vehicles?
Transportation is the leading greenhouse gas producer in the U.S., counting for nearly 30% of the country’s total amount. How much do EVs contribute? Surprisingly, very little — unlike gas vehicles, they don’t produce tailpipe emissions.
Even when you factor in charging, they’re a lot healthier. Although the power grid runs on fossil fuels, EVs are still beneficial because they reduce air pollution and carbon emissions at the street level — where pedestrians, homes and businesses are.
Many researchers around the world are even seeing direct results. For example, one of the first studies looking at the connection between EVs and health found that there were over 3% fewer emergency room visits for asthma attacks for every 20 vehicles per 1,000 people.
Think about it like this — you’d see long-term health improvements if you switched every car in the country from gas to electric. In fact, the American Lung Association estimates that a complete transition could save 110,000 lives over three decades.
EVs Can Improve Your Health
EVs can only positively affect your health. They’re much cleaner and reduce air pollution, directly benefiting the average person. You’ll also see a much more obvious impact if you live near a road, considering they don’t produce tailpipe emissions. Ultimately, a widespread switch to electric would save lives.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.