Life Cycle Air Quality Impacts of Conventional and Alternative Light-duty Transportation in the United States

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec. 30, 2014, v111 n52 p18490-18495; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1406853111) / by Christopher W. Tessum, et al.

Our assessment of the life cycle air quality impacts on human health of 10 alternatives to conventional gasoline vehicles finds that electric vehicles (EVs) powered by electricity from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power are best for improving air quality, whereas vehicles powered by corn ethanol and EVs powered by coal are the worst. This work advances the current debate over the environmental impacts of conventional versus alternative transportation options by combining detailed spatially and temporally explicit emissions inventories with state-of-the-science air quality impact analysis using advanced chemical transport modeling. Our results reinforce previous findings that air quality-related health damages from transportation are generally comparable to or larger than climate change-related damages…


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