The latest scientific research reveals that biofuels used in vehicles may be more harmful for human health than the petrol used today. By 2020, 10% of all transport means should run on biofuels as agreed by the EU.
The researchers invented a special computer model to determine air quality in 2020. The model showed that ozone level in some regions would grow if bioethanol was used for all cars. It would cause more ailments and asthma attacks. There naturally appears the question – why to use biofuels if it is not beneficial for the environment and human health in particular?
As showed by the study, the smog level increase meant 200 deaths more every year in the US, with only Los Angeles at risk of 120 deaths. Even if to take into account that ozone increase in some US regions would be partially compensated by its decrease in other regions, in general there would be over 700 extra complaints to accident and emergency and almost 1000 extra hospitalizations of people suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments.
The scientists determined that the use of ethanol reduces levels of two carcinogens found in atmosphere, while increases levels of other carcinogens. Thus, cancers caused by atmospheric carcinogens would remain at the same level as caused by pollution in case of petrol fumes.
Biofuels such as ethanol and diesel are mainly produced from corn, sugarcane and rapeseed. They provide a way of diminishing greenhouse gas emissions if compared to conventional fuels. Despite the fact that biofuels produce carbon dioxide, the plants growing leads to absorption of a similar amount of the gas from the atmosphere. According to a government report, the use of biofuels would result in emissions’ reducing by 50-60 % compared to petrol fuels. However, it would not be possible to have all vehicles on ethanol fuel as too much land would be required for growing the plants.
At the moment some scientists also consider the opportunity of converting all vehicles to battery-electric. The necessary amount of electricity would be supplied by wind energy. The use of battery-electric cars would keep the mankind away from 10,000 annual air pollution deaths as well as 98 % of carbon emissions produced by vehicles.
If we tried to make the conclusion, there would be no clear answers so far whether the use of biofuels will be somehow better for people’s health. The controversial issue is still to be thoroughly studies by scientists.