Ethanol Health Risks

Angela for­ward­ed me a sim­i­lar arti­cle on some resent research which states that ethanol may have greater health risks than gaso­line as a auto fuel. From the arti­cle I tagged in from New Sci­en­tist (see low­er right, titled “Warn­ing: Bio­fu­el may harm your health”), it appears that the num­ber of deaths increas­es by 185 going to an ethanol fleet from a gaso­line fleet in the Stan­ford researchers mod­el. That’s out of about 10,000 deaths annu­al­ly, or less than 2%. Frankly, I have reser­va­tions against believ­ing that one mod­el can real­ly pre­dict with­in 2% (maybe if this was a sum­ma­ry of sev­er­al stud­ies). But assum­ing it is accu­rate, there’s always the ques­tion about what car­bon emis­sions will do as well. Will more than 185 peo­ple die as a result of not switch­ing to bio­fu­els. Frankly, I think that a switch to non-car­bon based fuel sources or gen­er­a­tion of ener­gy (e.g. – wind, solar, hydro, geo, etc.) is the only long-term, sus­tain­able answer in any case.

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.

1 comment

  1. Some more infor­ma­tion: This news item from Sci­ence indi­cates that the pre­dict­ed 185 deaths annu­al­ly in the U.S. (due to a switch to Ethanol) would be a 4% increase. Not sure how that math came about, but then again, I haven’t had the chance to read Dr. Jacob­son’s paper yet, either (pub­lished today in the jour­nal Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy [abstract, arti­cle for pay jour­nal sub­scribers only]).

    Again, I do not mean to fault Dr. Jacob­son’s work. If it stands to peer review (which is appar­ent­ly has), then I by no means wish to imply his work is not accu­rate. Rather, I sim­ply think that this rep­re­sents a first step towards under­stand the risks asso­ci­at­ed with Ethanol and sim­ply one part of the data set need­ed for good policy.

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