Health Co-Benefits and Transportation-Related Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Bay Area: Technical Report

This study assessed the forecasted health impacts associated with different strategies to reduce GHG from automobiles.

  • Governmental researchers from CDPH and Bay Area transportation and air quality organizations teamed up with researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to try to answer the question: "What might be the health benefits or harms associated with active transport or low carbon driving?"
  • The current research attempted to adapt this model to the health and travel patterns of Bay Area residents. The model uses statistical data on deaths, life shortening illness and injury, and years living with disability for major health conditions strongly linked to physical activity, traffic injuries, and the fine particles in air pollution that can reach deep into the lungs.
  • At high levels of active transport, the model predicts annually 13% fewer premature deaths and 15% fewer years of life lost for cardiovascular disease and diabetes and 5% reductions in each of four other chronic diseases. After accounting for a 19% increase in the disease burden from fatal and serious traffic injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists, the Bay Area would still experience annually 2,236 fewer deaths and 22,807 years of life gained.
  • Because it reduces air pollution, low carbon driving yields 22 fewer deaths and a gain of 232 years of life lost from heart and respiratory disease; however, increased physical activity rather than less air pollution accounts for almost all the health benefits. While low carbon driving generated little health co-benefits, it is estimated to reduce GHG emissions 9% to 33.5% from the 2000 baseline. The most ambitious active transport scenario would achieve from 9% to 14.5% in GHG reductions.
  • Reducing risks from chronic disease of the magnitude suggested by this research would reduce the estimated $34 billion annual cost in California from cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions such as obesity.

Maizlish, N., J. Woodcock, et al. "Health Co-Benefits and Transportation-Related Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Bay Area: Technical Report."

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