According to a new study, ethanol-based fuels (E85) are just as harmful or worse than regular fuel to humans. The study was directed by Stanford Associate Professor Mark Jacobson, at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. According to Jacobson ethanol does decrease some of the pollutants, but it also increases others.
Switching to E85 (something that has been supported by the Bush Administration, the American Lung Association and biofuel industry groups) could result in higher ozone related deaths. Jacobson claims that switching entirely to E85 fuel would cause 185 more deaths per year in the U.S. and a large number of those will come from Los Angeles. In areas where smog is already a problem, the conditions would be worsened by the new fuel.
“If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don’t do it based on health grounds. It’s no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse,” Jacobson told the Associated Press.
Most of the backers of the new fuel are pushing for the new fuel because of the U.S. dependence on oil. E85 is seen as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Jacobson believes that more research is needed on the overall impacts of E85 on the environment and public health.
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