UAI: Ethanol reduces emissions connected to heart disease, asthma

By Urban Air Initiative | June 05, 2019

A new study finds that ethanol blends reduce particulate matter (PM) coming out of the tailpipe, which in turn reduces overall toxic emissions. The study was conducted by the University of California Riverside and the University of Wisconsin, Madison and commissioned by the Urban Air Initiative. It was published in Elsevier’s journal ‘Science of the Total Environment’.

The study found that on a per mile basis, the reduction of PM due to increasing amounts of ethanol was highly correlated with reducing health concerns. According to researchers, the E30 and E78 fuels had a consistent and dramatic decline in emissions that cause inflammation and oxidative stress, two key contributors to diseases such as asthma and heart disease. In addition, the higher ethanol blends reduced the emissions of carbon monoxide, NOx and total hydrocarbons.

“The results of this study continue to validate the variety of health and environmental benefits of ethanol blends. PM emissions are some of the most toxic emissions coming from the tailpipe and connected with causing a host of health and pollution problems. The fact that simply adding more ethanol to gasoline can reduce emissions and improve public health is a story that every driver needs to hear,” said Urban Air Technical Director Steve Vander Griend.

This is one of the few studies available to test the health effects from PM with varying levels of ethanol. It found that as ethanol was added to gasoline, it diluted aromatics such as benzene and toluene in the fuel. These aromatics used to boost octane are the most toxic compounds in gasoline and also create the most PM. This is why researchers found that as ethanol diluted aromatics it also reduced PM.

“Ethanol provides more octane than aromatics, costs less and is cleaner. In addition, this research proves that ethanol can contribute to improved public health by reducing the most toxic emissions. It’s readily available today and part of the solution to reduce air pollution and potential human health effects,” said Vander Griend.