Environment

Electric Cars in China Worse for Health than Gasoline Vehicles

Using EVs in China is worse for the environment than using gas-powered vehicles.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee claim that EVs in China are having an impact on pollution that is more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles, owing to the way China generates its electricity. Having analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, it was determined that electric cars are responsible for more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.

These small particles of pollution cause serious health problems such as exacerbating breathing and heart problems and are believed to be catalysts for throat and lung cancer. According to the researchers, the power generated in China to operate EVs emits these deadly polluting particles at a far higher rate than gasoline vehicles do. This is because in China 85 percent of electricity production in comes from fossil fuels, 90 percent of which is from coal. Electric vehicles are thus more harmful to public health per mile traveled in China than conventional vehicles.

"An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles," civil and environmental engineering professor Chris Cherry said. "Our findings challenge that by comparing what is emitted by vehicle use to what people are actually exposed to. The study emphasizes that electric vehicles are attractive if they are powered by a clean energy source. In China and elsewhere, it's important to focus on deploying electric vehicles in cities with cleaner electricity generation and focusing on improving emissions controls in higher polluting power sectors."

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