LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Amid rising death tolls and the slow down of lives that this pandemic has caused, the improvement of air quality is one clear positive thing that has resulted from coronavirus.
However, some experts are concerned about the post-pandemic air levels and if they'll return to previous levels.
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles say the future of air quality in this state doesn't have to be bleak.
They've laid out a plan in a study to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by 2050, while preventing approximately 14,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution-related illnesses, which can include respiratory, cardiovascular diseases and neurological problems.
"It doesn't need to take a global pandemic to create cleaner air and healthier lives," said one of the study's lead authors Yifang Zhu. "Climate action directly benefits people at a local and regional scale by creating cleaner air. The public health benefits are both immediate and long-term, and we can save the economy billions each year."
The study's roadmap to reach net-zero emissions in California uses existing policies and technologies.
"Nothing we are suggesting is science fiction, but it will take a lot more than what we're doing now," said study co-author Tony Wang.
The study found that achieving net-zero emissions in California would do the following:
- Reduce acute respiratory symptoms in 8.4 million adults
- Reduce asthma exacerbation in 1 million children
- Decrease the number of lost workdays by 1.4 million
- Decrease cardiovascular hospital admissions by 4,500
The study's authors say this research is aimed at assisting state and local policymakers to visualize the benefits of climate change action.
The study, "Health co-benefits of achieving sustainable net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in California," was published on May 4 in the Journal Nature Sustainability.
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