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Air: We all suck in 11,000 litres/day. Why not make it cleaner.

Not the romanticised Paris image we all have in our heads

Now I was lucky enough to meet the new NZ CEO of Asthma NZ, Katheren Leitner, and we were talking about the benefit of NZ making the shift to EVs. Well Australia has worked out that this could be beneficial also and a combined report was released by Doctors for the Environment and Asthma Australia. As I’ve mentioned before, Climate change has become one of those social hot potatoes that you can’t talk about without risk of somebody crying bullshit. In some circles it’s up there with religion and politics.

As someone with a science background I find this pretty amusing. That is the concept that something the vast international community of climate scientists agree on comes down to what you or I believe, like it's a religion in itself. But let's not go down the rabbit hole that is man made climate change as the key driver to why the world is going electric. Because it really isn’t. The main reason cities and countries are driving down this path (that is an intentional pun!), is because of air quality. Now that is why the NSW group got together and commissioned this report, and to save you the time reading it I’ll quote you the executive summary:

“The World Health Organisation considers air pollution to be the single largest environmental danger to public health globally. At the same time, a wealth of international evidence now shows that there is no safe level of air pollution. The existence of any air pollution at all causes negative health impacts.

The OECD estimates that approximately half of air pollution in member countries is due to motor vehicles. This is because, unlike with industrial or agricultural processes, motor vehicle pollution is pumped straight onto our streets where we live and breathe.

Australia and NSW are not exempt from this insidious global phenomenon. Air pollution from motor vehicles kills over 1,700 Australians per year.

Around 650 of those deaths occur in NSW. This loss of life is 60% higher than loss of life caused by motor vehicle crashes in the state. In total, vehicle emissions are causing around 21,000 serious health impacts annually in NSW.

To make matters worse, air pollution disproportionately affects the most vulnerable members of society including unborn babies, children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Using data collected by the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, the annual health costs of air pollution from vehicles is estimated to be $3.0 billion in the Sydney-Newcastle-Wollongong region.7 That means that each internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) creates average health costs of $7,110 over a ten-year lifetime. Around half of that pollution comes from exhaust emissions while the remainder comes from non-exhaust emissions such as tyre and brake wear.

While ambient air quality in NSW has benefited from stricter exhaust emission standards over the last two decades, that improvement is now plateauing. This means that policymakers need to look at new ways of protecting citizens from air pollution.

Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero exhaust emissions so widespread adoption of EVs would make marked improvements to NSW’s air quality. This report estimates that for each EV that replaces an ICEV, NSW will save at least $2,400 in health costs.”

If you read through the report they actually believe they have been conservative in their findings in regards to the negative effects of air pollution from light vehicles. One big insight for me was that children living within 75 metres of a major road have a 29% increased risk of lifetime asthma. Growing up my younger brother suffered from asthma and it was just horrible to watch. He’d run out of breath and be laying wheezing on the ground.

Now the cost of air pollution is material and significant, and a real cost both in economics but more importantly in social costs. Watching family die prematurely from air pollution related illness (lung and heart disease) is just horrible.

Now that we have a better technology we need to stop clinging to an outdated and dirty technology just because we like the rumble and the noise and move forward. That is why the world is shifting to electric. OK rant over. Oh and the full report is available on the Chargesmart website under Free Guides

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