Study Predicts High Health Risks if Ethanol Catches On
Widespread use of ethanol in automobiles would produce more ground-level ozone than gasoline and cause serious health effects, especially in Los Angeles County, according to a study released today in the online edition of Environmental Science and Technology, the Los Angeles Times reports.
When ozone is inhaled, even at low levels, it can harm lungs, aggravate asthma and impair immune systems, according to the Times (Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 4/18).
Mark Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University and author of the study, said that ethanol use could translate to "equal or greater risk to public health than gasoline," despite ethanol's being promoted as an alternative fuel.
Researchers focused the study on E85, a type of ethanol composed of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline (Davidson, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18).
The authors found that ozone-related deaths by 2020 would increase by 9% in the Los Angeles area and by 4% nationwide if E85 replaces gasoline.
Gennet Paauwe, a spokesperson for the California Air Resources Board, said state personnel are working to develop their own study of the issue (Los Angeles Times, 4/18).