Second phase of study explores health benefits of switching to biodiesel

The second phase of a study exploring the health benefits of biodiesel is underway.

Floyd Vergara, director of state governmental affairs with Clean Fuels Alliance America, says the study shows the benefits of switching to biodiesel in U.S. communities exposed to high rates of petroleum diesel pollution.

“Switching to 100 percent biodiesel would prevent 730 premature deaths per year, lead to 141,000 fewer sick days, and other benefits adding up to $6.2 billion per year,” he says. “If you did that to the older legacy vehicles, you would get a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk and 436,000 fewer asthma attacks each year. In the heating oil market that would be about an 86 percent reduced cancer risk, and 20,000 fewer lung problems per year. This is merely 28 sites so as you can see this is the tip of the iceberg if you consider the hundreds of similar sites across the country.”

The study conducted by Trinity Consultants was sponsored by Clean Fuels Alliance America, formerly National Biodiesel Board, with support from the Nebraska Soybean Board, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, California Advanced Biofuels Alliance, Iowa Soybean Board, and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board. The study used EPA air dispersion modeling tools and health risk assessments and benefit valuations to assess the benefits and economic savings of converting from petroleum-based diesel to 100 percent biodiesel, or B100.  

The first phase of the study was completed in early 2021. Vergara says the second phase of the study focused on transportation sources in different states in the midwest, southwest, and the District of Columbia.

He tells Brownfield the results have helped start conversations with lawmakers.

“I have found that these results have opened up a lot of doors. Policymakers up and down the coast including Washington State, which recently passed its clean fuel standards. They were very interested in these results, and it played a role in helping get that legislation get passed. New York State, for example, has a lot of environmental justice communities, and this sort of information is helping to keep biodiesel and renewable diesel at the table in these conversations as they proceed. The communities we’ve been talking to have welcomed this information. It’s the sort of gap-filling information they’ve been wanting for years.” 

Over two phases, the study covered 28 sites in 21 different states.

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