It’s long been established that air pollution is a contributing factor to respiratory illnesses like asthma and COPD. In those who are most vulnerable – children, the elderly, and people who have already been diagnosed with a respiratory condition – pollutants in the air can lead to the onset of asthma or COPD, or exacerbate the symptoms when respiratory illness is already present.
Since air pollution is more common in urban, high-traffic areas than rural areas, many have touted electric cars as a way towards cleaner air and a decreased incidence of respiratory illnesses. But this theory is not without its detractors.
While it is true that electric cars release less emissions than gas-burning vehicles, their beneficial effect on the environment is tempered by the fact that some of the electricity they draw from is generated through coal burning. Until electricity is generated purely through clean methods in the US, increased usage of electric cars will do little to improve the environment.
However, electric vehicles could have a significant impact on the incidence of asthma and COPD now. Respiratory illnesses are more prevalent in urban populations. But the coal-burning power plants that will generate the increased supply of electricity to power these cars are located away from dense population centers.
Only time will tell what the impact of electric vehicles will be on our health and the environment, but if you currently suffer from asthma or COPD, be sure to read our Patient Guides for important information before seeing your pulmonologist.