Vehicle Emissions Led to More Than 1,000 NJ Deaths in One Year, Study Finds
Vehicle pollution contributed to 1,175 premature deaths in New Jersey in the span of just one year, according to a study published Tuesday in Environmental Research Letters.
Researchers noted that vehicle emissions in New Jersey were also responsible for hundreds of premature deaths in other states in the same year.
Overall, the study found, ozone and fine particulate matter from tailpipes caused an estimated 7,100 premature deaths in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in 2016. Researchers were able to quantify the total and interstate deaths from transportation-related air pollution generated by five vehicle types in 12 states and Washington, D.C.
"What makes this study different from previous studies is that it connects the dots between where the pollution happens, and where the premature deaths occur," said Saravanan Arunachalam, research professor and deputy director of the University of North Carolina's Institute for the Environment.
In 2016, in-state vehicle emissions led to 489 deaths in the Garden State, according to the report. Fifty-eight percent of the 1,175 premature deaths cited were caused by out-of-state vehicle emissions.
During the same year, according to the report, health issues caused by vehicle emissions amounted to more than $12 billion in damages in New Jersey.
The study, part of the multi-university research initiative Transportation, Equity, Climate and Health Project, found that emissions from vehicles in New Jersey contributed to more deaths out-of-state than in-state. New Jersey's vehicles contributed to 683 deaths "downwind" in other states, according to the study.
"As policymakers consider how to transform the transportation sector — the largest source of carbon pollution — this research offers a roadmap for where to target investments to most cost-effectively improve air quality and health," said Jonathan Buonocore, research scientist at Harvard Chan C-CHANGE.
The total number of premature deaths caused by vehicle emissions in 2016 was found to be as low as 22 in Vermont, 74 in Maine and 75 in New Hampshire.
Light-duty trucks, which include SUVs, were found to be responsible for the largest number of premature deaths regionwide, followed by light-duty passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks.
On a ton for ton basis, according to the study, buses in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area recorded the largest health damages at $4 million for every ton of particulate matter emitted.