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New Study: China’s Electric Cars Contribute More To Pollution Than Gas Guzzlers


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New Study: China’s Electric Cars Contribute More To Pollution Than Gas Guzzlers



Scissors-32x32.pngAccording to new research from the University of Tennessee, electric cars in China have had an overall worse impact on the public health with regard to releasing particulate matter compared to those guzzling gas. The research conducted by Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, evaluated 34 major Chinese cities where electric vehicles, including bikes, outnumber conventional vehicles 2:1. Their research states that the number of electric cars have grown to more than 100 million in the country in the last decade.Scissors-32x32.png

Researchers find that China’s pollution related to e-cars may be more harmful than gasoline cars




The researchers analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What the researchers found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.


"An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles," Cherry said. "Our findings challenge that by comparing what is emitted by vehicle use to what people are actually exposed to. Prior studies have only examined environmental impacts by comparing emission factors or greenhouse gas emissions."


For electric vehicles, combustion emissions occur where electricity is generated rather than where the vehicle is used. In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal. The authors discovered that the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because the emissions related to the electric vehicles often come from power plants located away from population centers, people breathe in the emissions at a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.


Still, the rate isn't low enough to level the playing field between the vehicles. In terms of air pollution impacts, the study found that in China electric cars are more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled than conventional vehicles.


“Our findings are specific to China, which has electrical power plants that emit high amounts of particulate matter pollution and a population that has high numbers of people living in rural areas where power plants are located,” Marshall said. “We’re curious to take this research to the next step to see if we find similar results in other countries.”


The researchers estimated health impacts in China using overall emission data and emission rates from literature for five vehicle types—gasoline and diesel cars, diesel buses, e-bikes and e-cars—and then calculated the proportion of emissions inhaled by the population.


E-cars' impact was lower than diesel cars but equal to diesel buses. E-bikes yielded the lowest environmental health impacts per passenger per kilometer.


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Facts? We don't need no stinking facts.


Anyone with common sense can see that for every electric car on the road, the coal-fired power plants have to belch that many more particulates into the air. But it's nice to see some researchers actually being willing to make that assessment and publish it.


But our administration is proceeding hell-bent-for-leather to push everyone into an electric car.

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