New Reports Warn of Deadly Effects from Vehicle Pollution in Maryland


Larisa Manescu,

Reports from Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists highlight two new reports outlining how Maryland can reduce deadly vehicle pollution and improve air quality

MARYLAND - Transportation continues to be one of the leading sources of toxic soot and smog in Maryland. Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Sierra Club released reports outlining the hazards of transportation pollution and the steps needed to improve air quality and address the climate crisis to protect Marylanders’ health and future.

The Sierra Club’s new report outlines how hazardous nitrogen oxides (NOx) from vehicle pollution harms the health and safety of Marylanders, especially in urban environmental justice communities. This report bolsters the case that adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II), Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT), and Heavy Duty Omnibus (HDO) standards will protect communities across the state from the harms of tailpipe pollution from the passenger fleet. Along with the report release, Sierra Club Maryland today sent comments to the Maryland Department of the Environment supporting adoption of these crucial clean transportation programs.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ report shows findings of an analysis conducted in conjunction with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Resources Management (ERM). The report found that Marylanders will see many health, climate, and economic benefits of the ACT and HDO rules by 2050, including:

  • Delivering net societal benefits of over $6.6 billion, including public health benefits and savings for fleet owners and utility customers
  • Avoiding nearly 88,000 respiratory illnesses, 150 premature deaths, and 141 hospital admissions and emergency room visits
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from trucks and buses by 28 million metric tons, particulate matter by 307 metric tons, and smog-forming nitrogen by 83,000 tons
  • Saving fleet owners $46 million annually by 2050, largely from savings on fuel and maintenance
  • Attracting $84 million per year in investments in public and truck depot-based electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Adoption of these rules is critical to meeting Governor Moore’s goals of reducing pollution in Maryland’s overburdened environmental justice communities and achieving Maryland’s climate commitments, which require statewide emission reductions of 60 percent below 2006 levels by 2031. 

Upon the release of both reports policy experts and stakeholders released the following statements: 

Our new ozone modeling supports what many communities in Maryland have known for years: Transportation is a major source of dangerous air and climate pollution. But Maryland has the power to change this devastating reality, and it should move quickly to do so,” said Sari Amiel, an Associate Attorney with Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program. “Adopting stricter vehicle standards is critical to improving public healthincluding addressing the disproportionate rate of asthma for children in communities of colorand slashing climate-disrupting pollution.” 

"Electrifying Maryland’s cars, trucks, and buses is a crucial step to address the climate crisis and clean up toxic air pollution," said Kevin Shen, Northeast Transportation Policy Analyst/Advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The technologies for this transformation are here today, and as our analysis confirms, the benefits are substantial. Maryland’s air has persistent ozone issues largely caused by transportation which come with a host of serious health impacts. Zero-emission vehicles will save fleets and utility customers money and improve public health.”

“Emissions from the transportation sector include particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide,” said Oncologist Christine D. Berg, M.D. “These pollutants all have immediate adverse health effects like asthma, and long-term adverse effects like more preterm births, Parkinson’s disease, and lung cancer. Transportation is also the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change impacts like wildfires and other events that further degrade air quality and impact public health and safety.”

“In my Southern Harford Community and across the great State of Maryland, there is a continued need to address environmental justice," said Sarahia Benn of Policy Foundation of Maryland. “My community is one of the more industrialized areas in the state, and the resulting transportation pollution, particularly from heavy-duty vehicles, is contributing to the climate crisis, causing noise pollution, air quality deterioration, and a negative impact on the health of our children, seniors, and overall community. In certain areas of my community, the overwhelming air pollution often restricts outdoor activities for kids and adults alike. This is my community—but it doesn't have to be. The Advanced Clean Trucks rule is a powerful tool revving us towards environmental equity, aiming to deliver cleaner air, better health, and a fairer future for all. If our State will continue to prioritize the most impacted populations, including Black, Brown, low-income, and Veteran communities, we all will be driving towards a better and greener Maryland where everyone can breathe easier and thrive sustainably.”

“Air pollution has significant impacts to public health and the cars, trucks, and buses on Maryland roads contribute to this problem significantly in Brandywine,” said Kamita Gray, President, Brandywine TB Southern Region Neighborhood Coalition and Managing Director of 2Bridge CDX. “While we are all exposed to this pollution, there are significant differences in the average exposure to this air pollution then what being experienced in Brandywine MD, at 72% Black community related to vehicle pollution harms.” 

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit