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Study links use of electric vehicles to better health

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A team of researchers from USC's Keck School of Medicine has begun to document the actual impact of electric vehicle adoption in the first study to use real-world data to correlate electric cars, air pollution, and health.

The researchers analysed a 'natural experiment' taking place in California as individuals quickly transitioned to electric cars, or light-duty zero-emission vehicles, using publicly available statistics (ZEVs).

The findings were just published in Science of the Total Environment. Between 2013 and 2019, the researchers analysed data on overall ZEV registration, air pollution levels, and asthma-related emergency department visits across the state.

Local air pollution levels and emergency department visits decreased as ZEV adoption increased within a given zip code. "When we think about the actions related to climate change, often it's on a global level," said Erika Garcia, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine and the study's lead author, adding, "But the idea that changes being made at the local level can improve the health of your own community could be a powerful message to the public and to policy makers." The researchers also found that while total ZEVs increased over time, adoption was considerably slower in low-resource zip codes -- what the researchers refer to as the 'adoption gap'.

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