Migration from polluting vehicles, that burn fossil fuels, to electric vehicles, ideally using electricity generated sustainably, could significantly reduce the incidence of cardiopulmonary illness due to air pollution, a recent study suggests.

According to the team of researcher, in addition to less employee absence from work through illness, the switch will also lead to broad improvements in quality and length of life.

Researchers suggest that the migration from polluting vehicles that burn fossil fuels to electric vehicles, which ideally use electricity generated sustainably, could significantly reduce the incidence of cardiopulmonary illness due to air pollution.

The team’s paper compares the financial costs of building electric vehicle charging infrastructure using empirical data with health costs to see if there is a net benefit. They have found that in the majority of plausible scenarios of balanced growth, when the number of vehicles rises and so does the number of charging stations, there is a positive net benefit to society.

Findings of the study were published in the Journal of International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles.

“Since health benefits accrue to governments, businesses, and individuals, these results justify the use of government incentives for charging station deployment and this paper quantifies the impact of different levels of incentive,” the team concluded.

As part of the study, the team explained that the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) (an organization supported by 16 governments) has a target of 20 million electric vehicles by the year 2020. This was based on a national growth rate of 75% per year defined in 2016.

At that time, EV sales amounted to more than half a million (550000) worldwide in 2015, which represented a growth of 70% in 2014. Electric vehicle sales have continued to grow, with 2017 and 2018 experiencing 61% and 64% year-over-year growth respectively.

Their results suggest that a 75% growth rate for electric vehicle uptake is not unrealistic. Moreover, in the face of anthropogenic climate change and the detrimental effects of health on pollution, some observers see the transition to electric vehicles as being a matter of serious urgency.

This has to take into consideration the electricity generating mix from which the vehicles derive their power. If electricity is mostly supplied from power stations generating electricity by burning fossil fuels, including coal, gas, and oil, then many of the benefits are lost. This is particularly true in terms of climate impact at the global level but also in terms of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate pollution. This has been witnessed in India, China, and Russia, as electricity demand has risen rapidly.