Public Health

Air Pollutant Emissions from Passenger Vehicles

Differences in VMT lead to different levels of air pollutants (including nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter) among the insight2050 scenarios. With higher VMT, the Past Trends scenario sees 2050 passenger-vehicle pollutant emissions that are 4% higher than emissions in Planned Future, 25% higher than Focused Growth, and 30% higher than Maximum Infill. These results translate to significant public health impacts, as described in the following sections.

Community Insight

“Paying attention to our development patterns as they relate to potential health conditions is important for our entire population, and particularly important for older adults who are more susceptible to respiratory and cardiovascular conditions in their later years.”—Linda Mauger, Program Director of the OSU Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology

Annual Automobile Pollutant Emissions in 2050

Health Incidences and Costs

Auto-related air pollution results in a spectrum of health incidences, including cases of chronic bronchitis; acute myocardial infarction; respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalizations; respiratory-related ER visits; acute bronchitis; work loss days; premature mortality; asthma exacerbation; and acute, lower, and upper respiratory symptoms. Health incidences and their related costs are reduced along with miles driven and consequential reduction in passenger vehicle emissions. Using research-based rates and valuations , the RapidFire model estimates savings (rather than absolute totals) in health incidences and costs to 2050*.

Relative to the Past Trends scenario, all scenarios show significant reductions in health incidences and costs. In 2050, Planned Future results in a $41 million annual savings to treat respiratory health incidences related to passenger vehicle pollution. In Focused Growth, the savings rise to nearly $250 million per year, and go up to $315 million per year in the Maximum Infill scenario.

*The public health incidence and cost assumptions were initially developed by TIAX, LLC for the American Lung Association. Assumptions are based on national data from the EPA, Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards, Air Benefit and Cost Group (August 2010). While valuations (costs) were extrapolated for 2035, they are applied to 2050 pollutant emissions as an approximate estimate of costs in that year.

Annual Health Costs in 2050