Reduce traffic-related air pollution to save children’s lives & lower the $56 billion annual cost of asthma

Physician, epidemiologist, and Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health Dr. Sandro Galea just wrote a fascinating opinion piece for Newsweek Magazine on health care, and used asthma as an example of how non-health sectors of the economy affect health.

He pointed out that asthma costs the U.S. over $56 billion annually, and that reducing traffic-related particulate matter and other air pollution would be the most effective way to reduce asthma.

How could this be done?  A few key facts show that it is doable.

Most traffic-related particulate matter air pollution is emitted by the roughly 3 million heavy-duty diesel freight trucks on our roads, which burn over 37 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year.

Given the $700 billion annual revenue of the trucking industry – over $230,000 per truck – all old trucks could readily be retired and replaced with modern low-emissions vehicles – if we had the political will.

And if as a nation, we decided the health of our children is worth the investment, we could ditch dirty diesel in just a few years.

One option is to transform our heavy duty truck fleet to all-electric.  Electric terminal and short haul trucks are readily available today (check out the OrangeEV and BMW trucks), and their range is being improved every year.  Another option is to replace trucks (and dirty diesel locomotives) with Hyperloop freight networks along existing routes, as proposed by Elon Musk.

Making the leap to long-haul electric trucks and/or hyperloop freight systems would not be easy or inexpensive, but it wouldn’t be as difficult as putting a man on the moon, and would improve the health and lives of tens of millions of people – adults as well as children.

Dr. Galea makes an interesting point that I hope becomes true, ‘A transportation industry that is aware of its consequences for asthma will consider emission controls to be within its remit, and it will work to reduce the environmental consequences of its products.’

Check out Dr. Galea’s excellent editorial below:

Obamacare Is Not Enough – Americans are unhealthy and to fix it we need to address the root causes, Newsweek Magazine