The Road to Clean Air report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association lists Phoenix and Mesa among the 25 cities that would benefit most from a nationwide shift to zero-emission power plants and vehicles.
“Because of our climate crisis, we need to make these bold investments in transportation electrification to protect the health of Arizonans,” said Melissa Ramos, clean air advocacy manager for the American Lung Association.
The modeling study estimates that a widespread transition to vehicles powered by non-combustible electricity generation sources, such as wind power and solar energy, would avoid more than 1,300 deaths and bring more than $15 billion in public health benefits to Arizona.
That includes about 38,000 fewer asthma attacks and 182,000 fewer sick days.
The projections assume emission-free power plants and passenger vehicles by 2035, with trucks and buses to follow by 2040.
“Phoenix is ranked fifth for unhealthy ozone days, thirteenth for unhealthy particle pollution days and eighth for annual particle pollution levels,” said Ramos. “Since Phoenix is among one of the most polluted cities in the U.S., it also has so much to gain from a rapid shift toward zero-emission transportation powered by non-combustion electricity.”
Research links worsening air quality from transportation and electricity generation to a variety of negative health impacts, including childhood asthma attacks, impaired lung function and development, lung cancer, heart attack, stroke and premature death, particularly in lower-income communities and communities of color.