China, which is heavily polluted, has a program to replace conventional automobiles with electric cars. But it turns out that these are EVEN MORE polluting than automobiles with gas engines!

When environmental engineers Chris Cherry and Shuguang Ji analyzed the emissions of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, they found that electric cars cause much more overall harmful fine particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars–and fine particles in the atmosphere lead to heart attacks. quotes Cherry as saying, "An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles. 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."

How can cars that run on electricity pollute? It’s not the cars themselves that do it, it’s the power plants that produce the electricity they use. In China, 90% of electricity production comes from coal, which is a heavy polluter. Thus the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because these power plants are located away from heavily-populated cities, people breathe in the emissions a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.

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